SOS: Save our sharks
Free BY KELLIE KEENER, 17, Freestyle Staff Writer
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the staff of Freestyle
Many people don't like to think about the animals sharing the ocean with them, especially when not all of those animals are the fluffy, lovable penguins and seals often seen in nature documentaries about ocean life.
That's understandable. Say the word "shark," and most people think of "Jaws." A monstrously big, human-eating great white terrorizing a small island town, indiscriminately chomping down on the young and old, swimmers and boat captains. Sharks can cause a lot of terror. Actually, it's more accurate to say that the hype and stories about sharks can cause a lot of terror. If sharks killed as many people as the shark in "Jaws" did, wouldn't there be a shark attack story in the paper every week?
I am one of those (perhaps you would say strange) people who don't picture a man-eater when they think of sharks. I picture a majestic fish that is perfectly suited to its environment. (I wish we all could picture sharks this way.) Why you ask? Well, I love sharks. Ask me what my favorite animal is and my answer will be the great white shark, followed by the bull shark, the tiger shark and the tasseled wobbegong. Because I love sharks, I would also love if they were still around and doing well long after I'm gone.
I'm not writing this article to explain how sharks aren't swimming around looking for humans to attack. I may save that for a future Freespace. The point I am trying to make to you today is that sharks deserve saving. Plenty of people go around saying, "Save the seals" and "Save the whales" and those animals definitely need saving. They're an important part of an oceanic ecosystem (and prey for sharks) but when's the last time you saw someone holding a sign that said "Save the sharks?" I got some strange looks at school when I wore my "Sharks Rule" hoodie.
The simple truth is that no one wants to try and save an animal of which they're scared. But there is an important reason to save sharks. If we don't do anything to try and save them, they could disappear.
Consider how vast the ocean is. Doesn't it seem like it could hold an unlimited amount of animals? The truth is, it can't. Some areas of the ocean, like the open oceans have large stretches of water with food spread very thin, like the peanut butter on your toast when the jar is almost empty but you're too lazy to open a new one and you try to make the peanut butter last for one last slice. But unlike the lazy person in this example (coughs awkwardly), sharks can't just go to the pantry and open up the door and pull out a seal that they've been storing up. Instead, a shark has to hunt down food every time it's hungry. Not all sharks live in the open oceans, but they still have to hunt down food when they want it. The truth is, getting enough food in the ocean is hard because there isn't an overabundance of it. And because there isn't a lot of food to go around, there can't be a lot of sharks either.
Another thing that keeps sharks from being the most abundant fish in the sea is that they're being overfished and they can't replenish their numbers. Many sharks have only one or two babies at a time. Sharks can't reproduce fast enough to make up for all of the sharks that are captured and killed each year.
The best analogy I can give you involves sand tarts. Sand tarts are thin cookies made out of butter, flour, sugar and covered with sprinkles. Once a year at Christmas, my mom makes these wonderful cookies. Once they all come out of the oven, it seems like we have an infinite amount of sand tarts. So we pig out. Everyone says they only take one or two, but the cookies are so small (and so good) that we end up eating about 15 each throughout the day. That may not seem like a big deals, but multiply that by four people. That's 60 cookies a day. Soon all the cookies are gone and it seems impossible. After all we had an unlimited amount, didn't we? If only.
Just how does that tie in to overfishing of sharks? The ocean seems unlimited so fisherman think they can take as many sharks as they want because they're only taking a couple hundred a month and that's not a big deal right? But think of all the fisherman all over the world taking in those couple hundred (or more) sharks a month, and it adds up to a lot of sharks being killed.
Just like the sand tarts, the sharks aren't unlimited, and unless we do something soon, the sharks will be nothing but a memory.