Addressing the Elephant in the Ocean

Sharks. The most deadly creatures on earth, killing countless people, the very fish that keep us in the shallow ends. I mean, they murder people all of the time, right? Wrong! These misunderstood animals are actually injured and killed by humans more than people are by them! This week, I’ll talk about sharks, the most misconstrued fish in the ocean.

How exactly do we kill these great monsters of the deep? Well, there are many ways these fish are slaughtered by us, they are finned, culled, killed for sport, and slaughtered for souvenir items. Of course, you probably don’t know what any of that means so I’ll explain it to you.

Shark finning is the practice of catching sharks, cutting off their fins, and throwing them back in the water to die. This horrifying procedure is done to harvest the fins for soup. Since sharks must keep water flowing through their mouths to breathe, they often sink to the bottom and suffocate. For those that manage to move around, their death is often stretched over many days as other creatures eat them alive. Millions of sharks are subjected to this sickening death anually.

Shark culling is the specific massacre of a species for certian reasons. A common reason sharks are culled is to decrease their population to protect the humans that are entering their territory. However, data shows that the decline of the shark population hasn’t caused the attacks to decrease, so this slaughter is futile and inhumane. Oftentimes the slaughter is performed using nets, and these nets capture not only the targeted kind of shark but also other innocent animals and even protected and endangered species.

Shark fishing tournaments offer money to the fisherman to catch the biggest shark. The sharks are left to hang and suffocate in agony in this painful position. Winners claim that much of the fun comes not just in catching the shark but also in hauling it. They use J-hooks that rip the animal apart as it stuggles to free itself. Recently, rules have been added that the sharks must be released, but as the fish struggle in the process they usually die anyway.

Up until now you may think that you’re not affecting this because you haven’t eaten shark fin soup, but sharks are still killed for other things. Shark tooth necklaces, shark skin wallets, and some supplements contain real sharks. If you aren’t sure if the product is real or not, simply ask to save a life.

Ok, so it sounds pretty bad. But sharks attack too, though! Well believe it or not, the vast majority of shark attacks are simply due to the shark mistaking the person as food. In the wild, sharks eat soft-skinned animals like sea lions. If uncertain that their prey is food, they’ll take a taste to check. Unfortunately, their multiple rows of teeth make it difficult not to cause the person to bleed to death when bitten and the victim may die anyway.  However, in some areas, however they might actually be developing a taste for humans. After two shark attacks in Mexico in the same year, Jose Leonardo Castillo began investigating the possibility. Due to criminal activity in the area and bodies being dumped in the ocean, this idea is feasible. After frequently consuming human flesh, it is possible that they might have begun viewing people as food. Nevertheless, this is still just speculation.

Ok so now you know it’s not their fault, they just don’t know that you aren’t a yummy sea lion. Still, we should always try to be safe. There are a few measures you can take to be safer in the water, but keep in mind that anyone could be attacked. Obviously, if sharks have recently been seen in the area it would be wise to stay out of the water. If you just can’t resist, stay in shallow water no further than 95 feet/30 meters from the shore. Always swim in groups and try to avoid swimming when the water is cold. Be sure to avoid water deeper than 15 feet/5 meters, and try not to swim if there are seals, dolphins, whales, or bait fish nearby. Dusk and dawn are more dangerous times to be out, so remember to watch that beautiful sunset from land.

If we don’t stop this annihalation of sharks, they will go extinct before we know it. Sharks may become the next dinosaurs; simply talked about and shown to children with the aid of pictures.  Please share this post to protect these incredible creatures! Come back next week for the final post of this series!

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