February 10 – We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Ocean

Today’s factismal: Sharks killed 6 people in 2015. People killed 100,000,000 sharks in 2015.

If you read the papers, then there’s what appears to be bad news. In 2015, there were a record number of shark attacks; 98 to be exact.(The official score-keepers count all incidents in a single area and time as a single attack, so if a group of sharks chomps on a bus full of lawyers, that’s still just one attack.) And six of those attacks were deadly. But looking at shark attacks over time, that really isn’t that bad. In 2000, there were 88 attacks. And on average, sharks kill 17 people each year.

For a little more perspective, consider what people do to sharks. Every year, there are millions of people attacks on sharks. And, on average, people kill 100 million sharks each year.

For the sharks, the encounters are rarely deliberate. It is just that from below the average swimming human looks a lot like the average swimming seal. And where we don’t taste all that nice to a shark, seals taste delicious! So the shark will swim up, thinking it is about to chow down on some yummy seal and then spits out the nasty human it accidentally eats!

A whitetip shark in the Great Barrier Reef (My camera)

A whitetip shark in the Great Barrier Reef
(My camera)

But for people, the attacks are deliberate. We hunt sharks hunted for food and their skins are used for leather or sandpaper while their livers are turned into popular medicines and their teeth are made into necklaces with whatever is left over being turned into food for aquarium fishes. As a result, sharks are killed at a rate of some 100 million each year. Put another way, if sharks attacked people at the rate that people attacked sharks, it would take just four years for the sharks to kill off every man, woman, and child in the USA (assuming you could find a land shark).

A blacktip shark in the Great Barrier Reef (My camera)

A blacktip shark in the Great Barrier Reef
(My camera)

Our voracious appetite for all things shark is having a definite effect. Nearly 30% of all shark species are now endangered or on the brink of going extinct and the number of sharks in the Mediterranean has dropped by 97% in the time since America was founded. In short, sharks need our help. And they really need the help of citizen scientists who also happen to like to swim! If you are in an area and see a shark, then please report it to Shark Savers. They’ll use your report to help create a census of the sharks and other species in the oceans and that information can help us to discover how many fish can be harvested without driving the species into extinction. To make a report, head over to:
https://www.sharksavers.org/en/our-programs/sharkscount/

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