Archive for the ‘Sharks & People’ Category

Sharks Sustain Seafood Supplies and Help Economies
August 25, 2009

shark diving, shrimp dish, shark tunnel at aquarium

shark diving, shrimp dish, shark tunnel at aquarium

Without sharks, many of our favorite crustacean-based seafood dishes would drop off menus. Sharks, perfectly adapted to thrive as apex predators, maintain the ocean’s biodiversity by controlling the populations of marine species that are lower than them on food chains. As has been shown in Tasmania, Australia, removing sharks from an area has devastating effects on the ecosystems we depend on for seafood. Tasmania’s shark fisheries quickly exhausted local shark populations. With the sharks virtually gone, the squids dwelling in Tasmanian waters no longer had any predators. Their populations exploded and the rampant squids devoured all of the lobsters in the area until Tasmania’s lobster fishery collapsed. Other fisheries have suffered similar crashes from depleted shark populations, including those for scallops, clams and crabs. We can only guess at the impact declining shark numbers have on parts of the ecosystem that do not affect us directly. (more…)

Sharks Save Lives—Sharks and Medicine
August 20, 2009

stroke patient, tumor with blood vessels, pills

stroke patient, tumor with blood vessels, pills

Sharks are the focus of a wide range of medical research and a source of biomaterials used in several surgeries and pharmaceutical drugs. For example, the irregular, shifting structure of sharkskin that deters plant spores from latching onto and growing on sharks is being studied for possible medical applications. A sharkskin-like surface would prevent detrimental tissue growth on biomedical implants like catheters and heart valves. Scientists are also studying how Epaulette sharks can survive being stranded on shore for a few hours at low tide without being able to breathe. Since the epaulettes cope with oxygen deprivation at temperatures close to the human body temperature, there is hope that what they learn could be applied to stroke and heart attack patients.

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Sharks Are Going Extinct
August 18, 2009

Hammerhead in gillnet, finned Hammerhead

Hammerhead in gillnet, finned Hammerhead

Humans are swiftly wiping out sharks. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that as many as 100 million sharks are killed each year, and that global populations have dropped by up to 90% in the past few decades. Certain species are on the verge of extinction or already extinct in some regions.

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