Monday, December 3, 2007

Endangered animals - Sharks

Sharks are mostly known as vicious and dangerous animals, especially since the legendary movie Jaws which really made of them ferocious predators but the truth is that sharks in fact rarely attack people unless provoked and only small number of them is actually dangerous for humans. There are about 400 sharks species and only three have been involved in a certain number of unprovoked and fatal attacks on humans: the great white, tiger shark and bull shark.

Sharks usually live for 20-30 years but some species (whale sharks) can even pass the 100 mark. Sharks' biggest weapons are their teeth that are constantly replaced throughout shark's life (some sharks can lose 30,000 teeth in a lifetime). Their most important sense is their smell and some species are able to detect as little as one part per million of blood in seawater which gives little chance to their prey. But smell is not all that sharks have, sharks also have excellent sense of hearing and can hear their prey miles away.

Sharks aren't just impulsive cold blooded killers as many people believe, on the contrary, many species possess powerful problem-solving skills, social complexity and curiosity as they sometime work together in hunting their prey. They're also very fast swimmers so their prey is unlikely to escape them if nearby.

Every year, an estimate states that 26 to 73 million sharks are killed by people in commercial and recreational fishing. Shark's skin is used for many purposes and they are also common seafood on many tables around the world (especially in the form of shark fin soup).

Many of these sea predators end up as shark fin soup

According to "International Action Plan for Sharks" powered by CITES more than 100 out of 400 shark species are being commercially exploited of which many are so overexploited that their long-term survival isn't certainty even with appropriate action and there's also serious lacking in monitoring the international shark trade.

Since sharks are on top on the food chain it's absolutely vital to preserve them from extinction because their extinction would mean extremely negative impact on sea ecosystems resulting in many undesirable consequences.

There are certain positive moves but it will take lot more than now and then action to save these great predators from threatening extinction and there's lot of work left in this segment. Not just in research but in the legislation too.

There's a certain irony in the fact that the biggest sea predator has become prey. on the edge of the extinction, and all because of (who else, but) humans.

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