BLOGGING THE VIEW: 5 reasons to celebrate Shark Awareness Day

If sharp teeth, a keen sense of smell, and pointy fins are the only facts you know about sharks, it's time to read on

You might just be thinking TGIF but this Friday (14 July) is a double celebration as it’s also Shark Awareness Day.
It’s time to undo some of the PR damage sharks received from Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Jaws, but pointing out why these incredible creatures of the sea deserve a lot of respect – and a lot less fear. Here are some incredible facts to turn you into an advocate for sharks from this day forward.

1. Sharks aren’t out to get ya!
Shark attacks get a lot of hype – because there aren’t actually that many of them to hype on about. The chances you’ll have a close encounter with a shark is 1 in 11.5 million – significantly less if you don’t enter the ocean or go shark cage diving.

2. You will probably still survive
Fatalities from shark attacks are rare – there were only five fatal shark attacks in 2019. You’re more likely to die in a boating accident, by a cow, or even a falling coconut than a shark attack.

3. You’re the real predator
While sharks might kill between 5 and 10 humans a year – of 7 billion – humans kill around 100 million sharks a year. Sadly, this means the term ‘teeming with sharks’ is completely exaggerated, as many shark species are now classified as threatened and critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

4. Human cruelty knows no bounds
Shark finning is one of the biggest contributors to the declining numbers, with sharks tortured when their fins are cut off for fine dining, while the live shark is thrown back into the water where it drowns or is targeted by other predators. The result is a massive decline in shark numbers – more than 70% – in just 50 years.

5. A huge loss for the world
Sharks are apex predators – like the lion in the bush – which means they are vitally important for maintaining a balanced, healthy ocean ecosystem. Without sharks, other populations get too large, which leads to an imbalanced ecosystem and increased carbon dioxide levels. Without sharks, there is no healthy balance.

If this isn’t enough for you, here are some fascinating facts about the shark:

· They are one of the oldest species on the planet – dating back 420 million years to the days of dinosaurs
· There are more than 500 shark species, from the tiny dwarf lantern shark that fits in your hand, to the gigantic whale shark
· They have as many as seven rows of razor-sharp teeth and can go through 30 000 teeth in a lifetime
· They use electrical sensitivity for hunting, picking up on their prey even when it’s hiding

If you want to do more than just read about saving sharks, check out some of the things you can do to help these apex predators; from avoiding certain products to donating to the right causes.


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