The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes a year list that determines the level of threat a species face. The most vulnerable species are listed as “critically endangered.” Critically endangered species are under threat of going completely extinct within ten years. Unfortunately between commercial fishing, shark finning, habitat destruction, disruption to the food chain, and other human activities, there are several sharks now listed as critically endangered. It is crucial we learn as much information about sharks as we can so we can save these species before they disappear forever.
Pondicherry Shark: The Pondicherry Shark is found in the Indo-Pacific region close to the shoreline. It is a type of small Requiem Shark that grows only to 3.3 ft (1 m) in total length. The Pondicherry Shark is thought to be a river shark because the only known spotting of this decade has been in the Menik River in Sri Lanka. Southeast Asia has a high amount of unregulated commercial fishing that has negatively impacted the species and dramatically reduced population numbers. The Pondicherry Shark has not been seen for years, so scientists fear it may already be extinct
Ganges Shark: Ganges Shark is one of the unique river sharks. It lives in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers of India. It is a type of Requiem Shark grows to 5.8 ft (1.7 m) in total length. Like all river sharks however, it faces numerous threats. Both the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers are very polluted, creating a toxic environment this shark cannot thrive in. Also both rivers have dams that disrupt their migratory and hunting patterns. Finally, the Ganges River Shark is also under threat from overfishing.
New Guinea River Shark: The New Guinea River Shark, also known as the Northern River Shark, is a species of river shark, though it tends to live in fresh and brackish waters only when it is young. Typically, The New Guinea River Shark is found in estuaries, bays, and open waters of Australia and New Guinea. It is a smaller shark that only measures 26 in (67 cm) in total length. The New Guinea River Shark has an extremely narrow habitat range and so habitat degradation is its biggest threat. This rare shark is also under threat from commercial fishing and water pollution.
Irrawaddy River Shark: The Irrawaddy River Shark has always been a rare species of shark. There is only one known collected specimen. The Irrawaddy River Shark has a very small habitat area and slow breeding cycles, so it is extremely vulnerable. The Irrawaddy River Shark is only found in the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. In recent years, this river has become polluted from industrial waste. The area is also overfished to deal with the growing human population pressures. Under these pressures, Scientists fear the Irrawaddy River Shark may already be extinct.
Natal Shyshark: The Natal Shyshark is a species of Catshark found only off the coast of South Africa. This small shark only grows to 20 in (50 cm) in length. The Natal Shyshark was only discovered in 2006 and very little is known. However, since it lives in a region that faces immense threats from overfishing and human activity, scientists believe that because the Natal Shyshark is only lives in this unique habitat, it may go extinct very soon.
Daggernose Shark: The Daggernose Shark is a species of Requiem Shark that has a long, pointed nose. It is found along the Atlantic coastline of northern South America. The Daggernose Shark is extremely overfished and has seen a population decline of 90% just in the last decade. Scientists believe it is already in reproductive collapse and may disappear completely within the next few years.
Striped Smoothhound: Very little is known about the Striped Smoothhound. It lives along the Southern Atlantic Coast of South America and grows to 4.9 ft (1.5 m) in total length. Like other sharks along the coast of South America it faces extreme pressures from overfishing. Scientists are unsure how many Striped Smoothhounds are left on the planet, or if they have even already gone extinct.
Sawback Angelshark: The Sawback Angelshark is a bottom-dwelling shark found along the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic coasts. It is under threat from both habitat degradation and commercial fishing. Though the Sawback Angelshark is rarely fishing for its meat, it is often a by-catch. Fortunately, there are some conservation protections in place for the Sawback Angelshark, however these efforts may be too late to protect the species.
Smoothback Angelshark: The Smoothback Angelshark is also found in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic coasts. Smoothback Angelsharks are commercially fished in Northern Africa and is prized for its meat. This commercial fishing has severely depleted the numbers of Smoothback Angelsharks and they are now facing the threat of extinction.
Angelshark: Angelsharks are are found in the Mediterranean and along the Western coastlines of Europe and Africa. They are under threat from commercial fishing for their flesh sold as “monkfish.” However commercial fishing pressures have severely depleted the population of Angelsharks and they are now extinct in some areas. There have been conservation efforts put into place to protect the species but they are very limited and may not have helped protect the species.
These incredible species may all vanish before the end of the decade, if they haven’t already. Since their population numbers are in decline because of human activity, it is up to us to help before it is too late. The most important thing we can do in learn as much information about sharks, their habitats, and the pressures they face. Then we can take action by supporting conservation efforts. We have to act quickly though, because time is running out for these critically endangered sharks.