The Importance of Shark Conservation

A shark

Preserving our Oceans to Protect our Future

What are sharks? 

Sharks are cold blooded fish that have lived in the oceans for at least 400 million years. There is a lot we do not know about sharks. Researching animal life underwater is very difficult but we do know that if the protection of their species doesn’t improve, we will no longer have any sharks left to learn from. 

Why are sharks important? 

As the apex predator of the ocean sharks play a very important role in keeping ocean ecosystems healthy. Sharks often eat weak/sick fish, which controls the spread of illness to other fish. They also act as carbon sinks, that is anything natural that stores CO2. When fish die, they release carbon into the atmosphere, when eaten by sharks, the carbon is stored in their bodies. Without sharks in our oceans more CO2 will be released into the atmosphere causing rapid climate change/global warming. 

The Jaws Impact

The movie Jaws, based off the book written by Peter Benchley, was released in 1975. This wildly popular movie boosted sport hunting for sharks. Due to sport fishing the shark population in the NW Atlantic Ocean drastically decreased, specifically the Hammerhead, Great White, and Tiger sharks.

Peter Benchley has said that he regrets writing the book and has spent the rest of his life advocating for ocean conservation.

The movie piqued people’s interest in sharks, increasing funding given to shark researcher programs.

How does The Zoo Society help? 

The Dr. Holly Reed Conservation Fund has provided more than $2 million in grants to conservation efforts for a wide range of endangered species, including sharks. Through this funding we have been able to send Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff members to Mexico & Hawaii to help with shark tagging. This data is SO important, it provides us with the information needed to protect sharks.  

What can I do to help?

Avoid purchasing any shark products such as jaws or sharks in jars, report shark fin soup if you see it on menus, avoid products that have squalene, choosing to eat sustainable sea food.

Please consider sharing this with friends, it is so important to end the stigma around sharks. Without our help future generations will only know about sharks from books and movies.

“Individually we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro

Click here to donate to the Dr. Holly Reed Conservation Fund