Shark Week: Not the Campaign

With the election cycle heating up, the campaigns will feel a lot like shark week, but for now  we will take a day break from the political season and share this story from SFH (Students For Health) about Shark Week (this week on the Discovery Channel).

Source: http://studentsforhealth.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/shark-week-do-sharks-pose-a-threat/

“The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is a week-long series of feature television programs dedicated to sharks.”

Question: Do Sharks Pose a Threat to You?

“It is important to set the record straight on Sharks. The likelihood of being involved in a shark accident is considerably smaller than winning the top prize in lottery.”

“Between 1959 and 2003 1,857 people were struck and killed by lightening alone in the coastal states of the USA. In the same time frame there were 740 shark accidents, 22 of which were fatal.”

“Sharks are not harmless. They are wild animals like lions or crocodiles. Accidents happen, but not that often. To put shark accidents at the center of attention in discussions, branding them as ‘trademarks’ of sharks, is criminal and reflects a distorted picture of these animals.”

“The frequency of shark accidents has been increasing since the beginning of this century. From 2000 to 2004 there were 57 to 78 shark accidents per year worldwide recorded by the ISAF (International Shark Attack File) which occurred during nonprofessional water activities. Out of these accidents 4 to 11 were fatal. In 2004 there were 7 fatal accidents. Yet shark accidents must be seen in direct relationship to the number of water activities pursued by humans. Each year billions of people bathe, swim, dive or surf in the ocean. Compared with about 15 billion bathing, swimming and surfing events each year, 50 to 100 shark accidents are extremely few. Still, the number of unrecorded cases is higher because third world countries rarely inform about such shark accidents for image reasons. On the other hand, the ISAF even registers the most harmless of scratches as shark attacks, even though these are in reality only ‘shark contacts’.”

Why Shark Conservation?

“Sharks are one of our oceans’ top predators, keeping the entire ecosystem in check. They are vital to the health of our oceans, and studies have shown that reduction in one species causes effects on other species, and sometimes these effects are unexpected and detrimental to local and regional economies.”

“Animals at the top of the food chain, such as sharks, have few natural predators, are slow to mature, and have very few young. Some sharks take up to 25 years to reach sexual maturity, have a long gestation period (upwards of a year), and only have a few offspring in the end. As a result, they are extremely sensitive to fishing pressures, and are slow to recover from overfishing. Many shark species have declined in population by more than 90% in the last 50 years. Some species may have declined by as much as 97-99% in the last 35 years. In other words, as few as 1 out of 100 may be left of some species.”

“Sharks are often caught accidentally (called bycatch) but sadly, they are also sometimes targeted intentionally by fishermen for their fins. After their fins are cut off, sharks are often thrown back into the water where, unable to swim and bleeding to death, they suffer a slow and torturous death.”

“Some people have a hard time relating to sharks because of their reputation as man-eating monsters. This reputation is undeserved and is a largely a result of media hype and sensationalism. The truth is simple: sharks do not target people.”

“Would you like to support shark conservation? Click here to contribute to the cause.

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