Every year an estimated 100 million sharks are killed by people. Between this slaughter and the changing environmental pressures, many species of shark are in danger of extinction. If these species die out, it will negatively impact biodiversity.
So it is extremely important we learn about these endangered species of shark and what is causing their deaths, so we can work together to find a solution.
So here are the top ten most endangered species of sharks in the world:
The Pondicherry Shark has not been seen since 1979, and may already be extinct. The Pondicherry Shark was lives in the Indian Ocean stretching from the Gulf of Oman to the coastal waters of New Guinea. This unique shark is about 3.3 feet (1m) in length and has a pointed snout and black tipped fins. The Pondicherry Shark has become critically endangered because of heavy, unregulated fishing in the region. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has placed the Pondicherry Shark on the critically endangered list and has made finding existing populations a high priority for conservation.
The Ganges Shark is a true river shark living in the freshwater of the Ganges, Hooghly, Mahanadi, and Brahmaputra Rivers in India. It is a small brown shark with a blunt nose that grows to a maximum of 6.8 feet (204cm). The Ganges Shark is threatened from habitat destruction from pollution, dams, and barrages, as well as overfishing. After being listed by the IUCN as critically endangered, Indian government banned Ganges Shark fishing.
Northern River Shark
The Northern River Shark inhabits the coastal regions along Australia and New Guinea. It is often found in the murky waters by the mouths of rivers. The Northern River shark measures at 8.2 feet (2.5 m) in length, and has a stocky body with a high back. The ICUN estimates that only around 250 Northern River Sharks still exist and are threatened by commercial and recreational fishing.
The Natal Shyshark is a small species of shark that inhabits a small area along the coastal waters of South Africa. The Natal Shyshark has a distinctive H shaped pattern on its skin and grows to only 20 inches (50cm) in length at maturity. The biggest threat to the Natal Shyshark is habitat degradation from the industrial and tourist development around Durban, South Africa. Since this shark has such a small territorial range, these activities have had a devastating impact on the populations of the Natal Shyshark.
The Daggernose Shark is a small shark that inhabits the tropical waters off the coasts of Brazil and Trinidad. The Daggernose Shark has a long, pointed nose, large paddle shaped pectoral fins, and grows to 4.9 feet (1.5m) in length at maturity. In the last ten years, the Daggernose Shark has seen a 90% decrease in population as a result of commercial fishing, both for its meat and as a bycatch. So the ICUN has listed it as critically endangered and has recommended conservation efforts to South American governments.
Smoothback Angel Shark
The Smoothback Angel Shark is a species of Angel Shark known for its characteristically smooth back. It inhabits the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic coast along Southern Europe and Northwestern Africa. The Smoothback Angel Shark is under threat from overfishing and has all but disappeared from the Mediterranean. The ICUN lists the Smoothback Angel Shark as critically endangered and it is currently protected in the Canary Islands.
Sawback Angel Shark
The Sawback Angel Shark, like the Smoothback Angel Shark, are found throughout the Mediterranean Sea and along the Western African and Southwestern European Atlantic coastlines. The Sawback Angel Shark is identified by its long row of thorns ranging from its head to its tail. The Sawback Angel Shark was list by the ICUN as critically endangered in 2005 because a combination of overfishing and habitat destruction has dramatically reduced their populations.
Sand Tiger Shark
The Sand Tiger Shark, also known as the Grey Nurse Shark, is found along sandy coastlines, continental shelves, and submerged reefs along the coasts of North and South America, South Africa, Japan, and Australia. Sand Tiger Sharks have pointed noses and grow to 10.5 feet (3.2m) in length at maturity. Sand Tiger Sharks are threatened by overfishing and habitat destruction from pollution. Sand tiger sharks are extremely vulnerable because they have slow rates of reproduction so they cannot make up for lessening populations. They are a protected species in Australia and the United States.
The Striped Smoothhound is a type of Houndshark found off the coast of Brazil and Argentina. They are known for their unique striped backs and grow to almost 5 feet (1.5m) in length. Between 1994 and 1999, the species declined 96% because their nursing grounds are in a popular fishery area. The fishery killed so many mothers and pups, the Striped Smoothhound was listed as critically endangered. Unfortunately, there have been no conservation efforts to date and the fishery continues to operate in the nursing grounds.
Though only classified as vulnerable worldwide, the Porbeagle Shark is critically endangered in the North Atlantic. The Porbeagle Shark is a mackerel shark and is highly prized by sport fishermen and commercial fisheries alike. The popularity of its meat lead to overfishing and a near extinct population decline in the North Atlantic. There has been a lot of conservative efforts for the Porbeagle and they have been very successful in ensuring the continuation of the species, however their population has not yet recovered in the North Atlantic.
These are just some of the many species of sharks under threat of extinction. Understanding the pressures on these populations can help us understand what we can do to help protect them. The most important thing we can do is to help support conservation efforts by the IUCN and pressure our local governments to take action to stop the activities that threaten these sharks. Together, we can help save these critically endangered sharks!