Even though sharks may be everyone’s favorite ocean enemy, the truth is sharks should fear humans more than we fear them. Every year, 100 million sharks are killed by humans – the majority of which are slaughtered for the shark fin trade, the others are either targeted in culls or become bycatch from the commercial fishing industry. Because we portray sharks as inherently bloodthirsty animals, most people assume that killing them is for out protection and benefit … but as we are finding, that is simply not the case.
But one woman, Ocean Ramsey, is trying to change the stereotype of sharks. She is a shark and marine conservationist and professional scuba instructor, who free dives daily with sharks in Hawaii to collect data on their behavior. Ocean Ramsey has opened her invaluable studies up the public to “help people better understand, appreciate, and respect sharks as valuable apex predators and to combat the irrational fear many people have…”
With an Instagram that boasts over 284,000 followers, she challenges people’s misconceptions about sharks with stunning photos of her dives.
Ocean Ramsey is also dedicated to collecting invaluable data about these beautiful animals. As she notes on her Instagram, “shark research is critical for conservation efforts such as passing legislation that can afford sharks effective protection.”
Sharks are keystone predators who play an integral role in keeping other marine populations healthy and in check. Most notably, when sharks disappear from an ecosystem, it causes a trophic cascade and leads to the disappearance of other key marine species.
There are over one billion people worldwide who rely on seafood as their primary source of protein and we are finding that as sharks disappear, so do the fish that these people consume.
Ocean Ramsey hopes that by sharing her experiences with sharks, she will inspire others to take action and protect sharks.
If you’re inspired and looking to hear more from this awesome activist, check out her TedX talk about how sharks affect us all!
Around 30 percent of shark species are in danger of extinction, largely due to human actions. Intense commercial fishing and the shark fin trade are virtually wiping the shark species out of existence. While we might think that the shark is a terrifying predator … what is more frightening is a future where there are no sharks and the entire marine ecosystem is allowed to collapse.
If one person was to remove fish and shellfish from their diet for one year, it could save 225 fish and 151 shellfish. But, the benefit of this extends all the way back to the sharks. If fewer people consume fish, the demand goes down and there could be less need for bottom trawling and gill netting, which in turn would mean less chance that a shark would be pulled in as bycatch.
The consumption of shark fin soup is also putting a significant strain on the shark population. By spreading the word about the importance of the shark to the health of our oceans (and us!), we can change the perception of these amazing animals.
Be sure to check out Ocean Ramsey’s website for more information about her projects, as well as follow Ocean Ramsey on Instagram. And be sure to share this post with friends and family. Together, we can spread the word that saving sharks means saving us too!
Image source: Ocean Ramsey/Instagram