Monday, August 11, 2014

Happy Shark Week

Working at an aquarium gave me great access to sharks. (amongst other awesome animals too) This also helped to change my opinion on these amazing creatures. Sharks are one of the most misunderstood "predators" in the animal world. And they are being killed at an alarming rate by horrible practices like finning. We definitely don't want to be in a world without sharks. Why?

"In other words, without the sharks to eat the species that prey on the algae-eaters, those algae-eaters will decline, leading to an accumulation of biological refuse that eventually chokes out almost everything else, such as colorful reefs and everyone’s favorite marine animal: the sea dragon. A great, slimy oceanic bog instead of a thriving reef lorded over by sharks. An improvement?" via

"Thus, Dalhousie University found in a study in 2007 that the unusual decline of the shell catch at the US East cost was connected with the dramatic decline of the large sharks there. The numbers of sharks that eat rays, and in particular cow-nosed rays, and other small sharks, declined, and those animals in turn eat shells and crustaceans. Without predators, rays and small sharks were able to reproduce without limitations, and their attacks on the present shell population grew accordingly. Where cow-nosed rays used to form groups of 400 to 800 animals, their shoals now can include more than a million animals. This also affects the shell population, like locusts would devastate a vegetation zone. Out of 13 shell hunters that were examined, twelve profited from the missing large predators. The water quality of these sea areas of course also suffers from the lack of filter feeders and reducers." via

This week is Shark Week. If you have time, I encourage you to watch some of the programming. Shark Week (though it often does air some highly dramaticized shark attack stories and plots) does a great job of raising awareness about these animals. Often, we are so afraid of what we don't know...and there's a lot we still don't know about sharks. For example, we often thought that sharks are solitary hunters but the opposite is actually true. They are usually social creatures that travel in groups and are very curious and inquisitive. Did you know that the bull shark is seen as more aggressive than the great white shark? Or that some sharks can even be handled and touched? If you venture down to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, you can touch bamboo sharks! (shameless plug to my old employer) :)

Sharks are not the man-eating hunters that humans portray them as. Actually, it's kind of the opposite...

For more information on how Shark Weeks aids in Global Shark Conservation, visit the Pew Environment website. Test your shark smarts and learn which sharks have gotten an unfairly bad reputation.


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