A shocking reality

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Over the past few years, a shocking trend has occurred that threatens everyone on this planet. I am not talking about gas prices nor am I discussing global warming. I’m referring to the over fishing of sharks that are driving many species towards extinction.

I know right off of the bat, many are wondering why sharks matter so much to the well-being of the planet. How can their elimination impact us on the land? Why should we care about such vile beasts that only wish to eat us? Sharks are so important to the ocean ecosystem that if they go, then we would go too.

Right now, sharks are being hunted and killed all across the globe, but primarily in the west Pacific. Apparently, shark fins have “divine power” because of their natural brute strength and agility; therefore, the fins are harvested and are used in a special Asian soup, which is a symbol of a higher social class and status. These fins are tasteless and they truly have no divine power, yet one pound of fins can sell for at least $300 and their harvest is mainly unmonitored and unmanaged. Over 100 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, yet 99% of the shark is tossed overboard after the fins are removed. Most of the time the shark is still alive during the actual de-finning and tossing of the shark back into the water.

I know many of you are disturbed by these images, and so was I. I watched a documentary called “Shark Water,” where I watched in horror as numerous sharks are killed without mercy. The biggest reason why we choose to hide these images from the public forefront is that we would rather save the cute seals, whales, dolphins, penguins, or manatees rather than sharks.

Despite being one of the greatest films of all time, Jaws truly distorted the true image of the shark. Sharks are truly timid creatures, not scary killing machines. They are more afraid of us than of them. The only reason sharks attack us is because they are wondering who we are. I mean, how would you feel if some alien came into your house? Wouldn’t you go and find out exactly what it is? Sharks would only take a little nibble at us, but because we freak out, we tear our legs out of its mouth and we die of blood loss. Annually, 5 people die from “shark attacks.” Soda machines kill more people than sharks do.

If we do not stop these atrocities against sharks, they will become extinct. Losing the top of the food chain in any ecosystem is detrimental because it disturbs the checks and balances in the ecosystem. If the sharks go, then other creatures may follow. When the largest ecosystem in the world, the home for life on earth, is disturbed, the effects will be felt here on land. We cannot let the ocean be lost or we will to. We cannot be so wasteful and aggressive when it comes to hunting for a resource so crucial for the survival of the planet.

Visit the Shark Water website for more facts about shark finning, the creator of the documentary, Rob Stewart, and more about how you can help save such a misunderstood creature. Sharks are not out here to hurt us; we should not be out there to hurt them

Bryan Manderscheid is a freshman engineering major and can be reached for comment at bmandersch@smu.edu.

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