Maybe it was the film “Jaws” that stoked your fear of sharks or maybe there’s no reason at all. Maybe you just never liked the idea of sharks. Generally speaking, most people have at least a faint phobia of sharks. It’s crazy, really…
When in reality, and statistically speaking, you are more likely to be killed by a hot dog than a shark.
If you put aside your Jaws-inspired fears of this marine predator, you’ll come to learn that sharks are, in fact, incredible animals and not as terrible as you’ve been led to believe. From keeping the food web in check to holding cures for diseases to boosting local economies, we need sharks more than we think.
Sadly, some people do not agree. That’s why countless sharks are amongst the most threatened species on the planet. Overfishing and the fin trade are driving shark species to their end but these two culprits aren’t the only things threatening shark species. Sharks are also hunted for another body part…
The Shark Teeth Trade
After witnessing the horrors in ”Shark Week” you would think people would stay as far away from shark teeth as they could. It appears that’s not the case. Shark teeth and jaws can be found in tourist shops in many seaside areas throughout the world. And the most unbelievable thing, people actually buy them.
Even though it’s illegal in many countries to catch sharks, shark products are still being sold in shops, and it’s doing absolutely no good for the global shark population which is already in trouble. If we keep killing them for their body parts, like their fins and teeth, the population is going to keep on declining until eventually, the entire shark population gets wiped out.
Sharks Are More Valuable Alive Than Dead. Here’s Why…
As tempted as you may be to purchase a shark tooth or, even worse, a whole set of shark jaws, remember this small but significant fact: we need sharks. The world without sharks would mean disaster for the planet and its inhabitants.
If sharks disappeared, there’d be a huge chain reaction in the ocean. A study in Australia, for instance, discovered that with the shark population decline, came a herbivorous fish population decline.
Without predators, prey populations that graze on seagrass are plentiful and wipe out these greens that provide oxygen to the water.
Sharks play a critical role in the carbon cycle. By feeding on the dead matter on the seafloor, scavengers like starfish and deep-sea sharks help to keep the carbon cycle in motion.
Sharks also boost local economies. According to a study in 2013, shark tourism, a form of eco-tourism that includes activities like shark cage diving, generates around $300 million a year. And that number is expected to double in the next two decades. These activities provide approximately 10,000 jobs in 29 countries. To put it another way, sharks are worth a lot more alive than dead.
Sharks Heading For Extinction?
Whale Sharks, White Sharks, and Basking Sharks are all listed under Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). This listing requires parties of the convention to protect the species and it also means the trade of shark products is illegal without a license. However, that hasn’t stopped poachers from hunting sharks for their teeth and jaws.
Fetching up to $100 for a single shark tooth and $10,000 in the USA for a set of jaws from a large shark, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why illegal smuggling of shark teeth and jaws is becoming so common.
Sure, these poachers will earn big bucks from their hunt. But what they don’t seem to realize is that their greed is driving shark species to extinction. With over 100 million sharks slaughtered every year, it’s not hard to see why 18 species of shark have already been listed as endangered.
Steer Clear of Shark Teeth if You Want to Save Sharks
Given the highly precarious state of the world’s shark population, we all need to do everything we can to preserve their numbers. While buying shark teeth might seem like a “cool” thing, remember the real cost of these trinket items. There is no reason anyone needs shark teeth, but there are many, many reasons that we need sharks.
To learn more about these important marine animals, check out the following resources:
- 100 Million Sharks Are Killed Every Year! Sign Petition and Tell FedEx to Stop Shipping Fins
- Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds! Why Humans Need Sharks
- Why Sharks Should be Afraid of Humans
Lead image source: Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock