What is Shark Awareness Day?
Shark Awareness Day is on 14th July 2015 and was started to promote facts about sharks and dispel some of the myths and fears surrounding these magnificent creatures. It aims to promote conservation, a better understanding and to address some of the threats facing sharks.
Project Aware Shark Speciality Course
To celebrate Shark Awareness Day, why not take the newly released AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Distinctive Specialty Course, which will turn you into an advocate for shark conservation? A course for both divers and non-divers alike, book with Scubafish and learn about:
Lets start by addressing some of the fears. Movies like JAWS and Megalodon have demonised sharks for decades however in reality, annual fatalities from shark attacks worldwide average 5-10 per year. Shark Awareness Day attempts to redress the balance with some facts:
Considering that falling coconuts kill 150 people worldwide each year, you are 15 times more likely to die standing under a coconut tree, than in the ocean with a shark. In the US alone, cows kill about 20 people per year, as do horses but we don’t see movies about killer cows and horses do we? Perspective is a wonderful thing.
The reality is humans are a far greater threat to sharks, than they are to us. Each year, between 70-100 million sharks are killed for their fins or as bycatch. Sharks are in trouble in a big way.
Shark Fin Soup
Shark fin soup is a popular dish in China, other parts of Asia and is considered a sign of wealth. Figures suggest that Hong Kong is the world’s shark fin trading centre, accounting for an estimated 50%-80% of all fins traded worldwide. However, the EU has supplied approximately one third of all fins imported into Hong Kong.
Every year tens of millions of sharks die a slow death because of finning, which is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark’s fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea. The sharks either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown.
Not only is the finning of sharks barbaric, but their indiscriminate slaughter at an unsustainable rate is pushing many species to the brink of extinction. Since the 1970s the populations of several species have been decimated by over 95%.
This wasteful and cruel practice is currently the greatest threat facing sharks, contradicting all principles of sustainable shark fisheries management and conservation.
Shark Awareness Day has seen several high profile celebrities like Yao Ming, a Chinese Basketball player, step up and take a stand against Finning and Shark Fin soup.
Overfishing is having a severe effect on shark populations worldwide. Sharks often take many years to reach sexual maturity, making it almost impossible for them to replenish their decimated populations.
For example Whale sharks can live to an age of 60-100 years, however cannot reproduce until they reach about 30 years old. They will then produce a litter of only between 2-12 live pups.
There are now 135 species of Chondrichthyan (shark, skate, ray and chimaera) fish listed in a threat category on the IUCN’s Red List, with a further 106 species listed as Near Threatened.
How You Can Help
If you are concerned about the future of sharks, there are lots of things you can do to help.