From being a small boy I have always had a fascination with wildlife and more specifically: sharks.
Throughout my time in Australia I have been very lucky to have a lot of close contact with various species of sharks- with most encounters being with reef sharks.
Sharks- for many years- especially since the hit movie “Jaws” have had a reputation of being man- eaters and breeding fear within humans. However this is far from the case of reality. Having swam/ held and had contact with various species of shark this fear is unwarranted. This inauthentic fear has earned it a reputation as being dangerous and worthy of contempt.
My girlfriend Beth has always been terrified of sharks. In Dec. 2010 we were in the sea on a secluded beach on Brampton Island. We were swimming off a small reef on the Great Barrier and approximately 12 fins appeared around us in the crystal clear waters. Beth instinctively panicked- trying to run for shore with her fins and snorkeling mask on. She made it however; the splashing and noise caused the reef sharks to begin to dart towards her (mistaking her for a dying fish). However I stayed in the water to show her it was safe as long as you don’t panic so as the sharks don’t mistake you. With many sharks swimming around me she was able to see how the sharks were not a threat. After a while Beth came into the water and we were both able to experience these awesome animals. A month later she held a Black Tip Reef Shark for the first (after much convincing).
Right now, sharks are among the most valuable and vulnerable animals in the sea.
Massive consumer demand for shark fins and other shark related products have created an industry motivated by high return. Shark fins have become one of the world’s most precious commodities reaching figures of up to $256 per pound. It was recently reported that the dorsal fin of a whale shark alone fetched $15,000 at market.
It is barely surprising then that more than 125 countries around the world now trade in shark products contributing to an uncontrollable surge in the number of shark taken from the oceans. In a little over 50 years the slaughter of sharks has risen 400 per cent to approximately 800,000 metric tons per year.
By 2017 it is anticipated that 20 species of shark could become extinct due to hunting, indiscriminate fishing techniques and, ultimately, man’s greed.
Currently more than 100 million sharks are taken from the seas each year – a rate at which they simply cannot survive.
They cannot survive this onslaught because, unlike many other fish, most large sharks don’t reach sexual maturity until seven years old or even later, and then only give birth to a few pups each year.
Right now, they are simply being caught and killed faster than they can reproduce.
Its time for it to stop