tiger shark being redirected by shark diver

SHARKS

Why Sharks Are Important to Me

I grew up watching Shark Week and National Geographic and always found sharks interesting but I wasn't excited by the possibility of seeing one in the water by any means.

 

When I first entered college I wanted to work with dolphins or turtles but after hearing about how many people were ready to help them I wanted to focus on species that were in need of support. Sharks quickly stole my heart and I continued to pursue shark research and conservation during and after school.

It sounds weird to say but diving with sharks has brought me more peace than most any other experience in my life. There is an awareness and presence required when in the water with sharks that I haven't been able to replicate anywhere else. I cannot imagine my life without shark diving. Every time I get in the water I remind myself how fleeting these moments are. With sharks being wiped out at incredible rates I know that I need to cherish every second I can get with them.

I care about shark conservation because I care about the shark populations and I understand that the only way we can have a healthy ocean is if it includes sharks. 

underwater and wildlife photographer diving with tiger shark

DON’T FEAR THE FIN

tiger shark swimming in open ocean

Why You Should Care About Shark Conservation

Approximately 90-99% of shark populations are already depleted. 2-3 sharks are killed every second. Shark finning, commercial fishing, and cosmetic & souvenir industries are wiping sharks out at rates they never evolved to keep up with. Sharks have slow reproduction rates and take a long time to mature. They simply cannot keep up with the rate at which they are being killed.

Sharks are essential to our oceans. They eat sick, injured, dead, and dying animals which leaves behind healthy fish populations to reproduce without disease. Without sharks a trophic cascade occurs and the ecosystem collapses as fish populations swing out of balance.

We need sharks in order to have a healthy ocean.

Ways To Help Save Sharks:

1) Educate yourself and others on sharks and their importance in the ocean.

Sharks are one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. Part of the challenges in shark conservation is convincing people to protect something they are afraid. You simply educating your friends and family on sharks and how they aren’t the monsters portrayed by the movies can make a huge difference.

2) Don’t use or support companies that make shark products.

Shark finning isn’t the only thing affecting sharks. There is an increasing demand for the use of squalene in cosmetics and medicinal products. On top of that shark teeth, fetuses, and other body parts are in demand for various other products. You can help reduce the demand for shark fishing by refusing products with shark in them.

3) Reduce your seafood consumption.

Commercial fishing is one of the biggest killers of sharks. Fishing fleets may not be targeting sharks specifically but because of the commonly used methods like gill nets and longlines they make up over half of the bycatch caught by commercial fisheries. By reducing the amount of seafood you eat and/or knowing it is caught sustainably you can help reduce support for commercial fishing methods.

4) Write to businesses and/or government agencies and encourage them to support movements to help save sharks.

Educating and encouraging companies not to carry shark products makes a huge difference. Writing to legislatures and government agencies to support laws and regulations aimed at protecting sharks is fundamental to saving sharks.

photo credits: @jarebutter, @chiaraphoto