Humans are killing sharks at an unprecedented rate. An estimated 100 million a year are killed for meat, as byproducts of commercial fishing, pollution, and out of fear. This is causing shark populations to drastically decline in numbers. Many of us want to do more to help to stop these killings, but we don’t know how. So we’ve put together a list of 10 simple things you can do to help protect the sharks of the world.
Why Conservation Efforts Matter
The sharks of the world are quickly becoming endangered, and some are even in threat of extinction. Sharks play an integral part of the ocean’s ecosystem. As the apex predators, they keep the food chain in balance. If sharks were to disappear from the world’s oceans, the environmental consequences would be massive. Without sharks there will be a decline in population of ocean species, a growth of suffocating algae blooms that produce toxins and destroy coral reefs, and an increase the carbon loading of the atmosphere which would speed the rate of global warming. So it is crucial that we do everything we can to support conservation and protect sharks from extinction.
What You Can Do To Protect Sharks
There are a variety of things you can do on an individual level that can help protect shark species. Here are just 10 things anyone can do to help:
1. Learn As Much As You Can About Sharks
The most important thing you can do to help sharks is learn about the different sharks of the world, their habitats, and behaviors. Then learn how different human activities put them in jeopardy and which species of sharks are most threatened. By educating yourself on the issues, you can find effective ways to help. You can also help teach others about sharks and inspire them to get involved as well.
2. Do Not Use Shark Products
Obviously a great place to start is by not consuming any shark meat. However, there are more products than just shark meat on the market. Shark cartilage and oils are found in a range of products from beauty items to health nutrition. So before consuming any product, make sure it does not use any shark materials. By boycotting shark products, you will reduce market demand, causing companies to stop killing sharks to make these products.
3. Reduce Your Seafood Consumption
Commercial fishing negatively impacts sharks in two ways. First, it reduces the populations of their food sources, especially sharks that rely on bony fish as their primary food source. Secondly, sharks are often killed as a byproduct of commercial fishing. Sharks are attracted to the movement of the trapped animals, and may try to feed on them, getting caught and strangling in the net. They may also be accidentally caught by fisherman looking for other seafood. So by simply reducing your consumption of seafood, you can reduce the number of sharks killed each year.
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
One of the biggest threats to shark species is trash. With the massive plastic gyres and dumping, sharks often mistake garbage for food. Plastic is also consumed by the marine species that sharks eat. So sharks will eventually consume non-food products, leading to illness and death. So think about your impact on marine species when using products, so that they don’t end up causing irreparable damage to sharks species.
5. Donate And Volunteer With Shark Conservation Organizations
There are hundreds of wonderful organizations that work tirelessly on shark conservation efforts. Shark conservation organizations fight to educate people, stop the slaughter of sharks, and write and support legislation that protects conservation zones. So if you have some spare time or money, you can donate to a shark conservation group.
6. Write Your Legislators
Letter writing is a great way to helps protect and preserve sharks. Writing a letter to your representative to tell them that shark conservation is important to you and that you would like them to introduce and support legislation that will list sharks as protected species, ban shark finning and fishing, and set up conservation areas in the oceans around your country can be a big help.
7. Talk To Your Local Educators
Schools are a great resource to help encourage people to get active in a cause. From elementary schools to universities, you can help promote campaigns that raise awareness, collect donations, and support conservation efforts. Teachers and students love to get active in causes, so talking to your local educators is a great way to rally people to help save sharks.
8. Speak Out When You See Abuse
If you live near the oceans or are just on vacation, if you see someone abusing sharks, speak out. Whether they are poking and prodding them or illegally hunting them, tell the authorities what you’ve seen, Most beaches have protections for the local marine species, so if someone is mistreating a shark, you can help defend the shark by reporting the action.
9. Go Diving With Sharks
Shark diving is a great way to protect local shark species. Governments are much more likely to set up conservation zones when sharks bring tourism revenue to an area. There’s a variety of dives you can do for any skill level and interest. Whether you go cage diving with Great White Sharks or simply snorkeling with Nurse Sharks, shark tourism will help support local conservation efforts.
10. Spread Awareness On Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool to spread awareness about sharks and shark conservation. So the next time you read an interesting article or blog post about sharks, share it with your network. If you are looking for resources, to share with your friends check out some of the great articles on Shark Sider.
There are a number of ways to help the sharks of the world from going extinct. By educating yourself and others, being a conscientious consumer, and speaking out for sharks, you can easily help promote shark conservation. So even though the problem is massive, there are some simple ways that we can all help.