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Demystifying the Bad Fame of Sharks: Educating for a Harmonious Coexistence

The truth about sharks

sharks swimming

As divers, how many times do we hear people say that they are afraid of sharks? And yet, those of us who love the sea are always looking forward to seeing you. In fact, whenever they ask us, we answer that the animal that scares us the most is the Mosquito. That made me suffer so much with dengue.

Sharks have been reviled for decades, with an unfairly misunderstood and feared reputation. Their image has been distorted by tabloid films and media that portray them as insatiable killing machines. However, it is time to demystify the notoriety of these magnificent marine predators and educate people about the truth behind sharks.

1. Sharks are essential for the ecological balance:

Sharks play a crucial role in the marine ecosystem as top predators. By regulating the populations of other species, they maintain balance in the food chain. This contributes to the preservation of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, since they prevent certain species such as tuna and other predators from multiplying excessively and depleting resources.

Groups of sharks patrolling the reef

2. Most sharks are not a danger to humans:

It is true that some sharks can be dangerous to humans, but these incidents are rare and usually occur due to misunderstandings or misidentifications.

Swimming with the whale shark

It is important to recognize that the widespread perception of sharks as bloodthirsty killing machines is far from accurate. Of the more than 500 known shark species, only a few are potentially dangerous to humans. Those species are mainly the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) and the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas). These species are found in certain regions of the world and, although they occasionally come close to coastal areas, attacks on humans are extremely rare.

In contrast, most shark species are harmless to humans. These harmless sharks include species such as the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), hammerhead shark (Sphyrna spp.), blacktip shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) and many others. These sharks generally feed on small fish, squid, and plankton, and are rarely attracted to humans as prey.

It is important to understand that shark attacks on humans are extremely rare events and, in most cases, are due to misunderstandings or misidentifications. For example, some attacks can occur when a shark mistakes a swimmer for prey, such as a sea lion or turtle, due to its silhouette and movement in the water.

In areas where humans and sharks share the same habitat, encounters do not usually lead to attacks, as sharks are generally timid and will avoid close contact with humans.

To promote a safe and harmonious coexistence with sharks, it is essential to understand that we are visitors in their natural environment. The oceans are their home, and humans should respect and appreciate the importance of these animals in marine ecosystems. When diving or swimming in areas where sharks are present, it is essential to follow safety guidelines and local regulations, such as avoiding swimming near feeding areas, avoiding wearing shiny jewellery that may attract the attention of sharks, and keeping a safe distance if you encounter one.

Rules to have a proper coexistence with the marine world respecting the whale shark
Rules for swimming with the whale shark

3. Sharks don't attack humans out of revenge:

Unlike how they are sometimes portrayed in movies, sharks are not vengeful creatures that actively seek out humans to attack. Most shark attacks occur because humans intrude into their territory or get confused with potential prey. Sharks' sense of smell and vision are highly developed, but they cannot easily discern between prey and foreign objects.

Debunking the myth that sharks go to human blood is critical to promoting a more accurate and fair perception of these majestic marine predators.

4. The worrisome decline in shark populations:

Despite sharks' notoriety, they are the ones who face a real threat from overfishing and illegal hunting. The overexploitation of sharks for their fins (a practice known as "finning") has led to a significant decline in their populations around the world. This is worrisome, as it can unleash an imbalance in marine ecosystems.

Number of sharks hunted: It is estimated that every year, between 63 and 273 million sharks are caught worldwide. This figure represents a significant threat to many shark species, as some populations are declining dramatically.

number of sharks killed compared to humans

Fishing for their fins: One of the main reasons behind hunting sharks is the demand for their fins. Finning, a practice in which a shark's fins are cut off and its mutilated carcass thrown into the sea, is a cruel and devastating practice carried out to supply the shark fin industry, which is in high demand in some markets, mainly in Asia. Want to know where most of this fishing comes from you will be surprised if you are Spanish link.

Population decline: Some shark species are facing alarming population declines, with many classified as threatened or endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Excessive hunting is one of the main factors behind this situation, along with habitat degradation and other human impacts.

5. Economic and ecological effects:

The economic value of live sharks, in terms of dive tourism and marine life viewing, far exceeds the market value of their fins. Shark-related dive tourism generates income and employment in many regions of the world. The decline in shark populations can have negative effects on the local economy and the ecological balance of marine areas.

Interaction with sharks and a swimmer

6. Encourage conservation and coexistence:

It's time to change our perception of sharks and work towards their conservation. Education is key to understanding their importance in the ecosystem and to promoting a harmonious coexistence between humans and these majestic marine animals. Some actions we can take include:

  • Support the creation and maintenance of marine protected areas where sharks can live without threats.

  • Eat less or no fish. It is true that it makes sense to eat fish in sea areas and, for example, in countries we visit like the Maldives it is easier to eat fish than vegetables. But we have to try to do it responsibly and choose sustainable fishing options that don't harm shark habitats. And one way is to always eat products from the local area. That is, if you're from the interior and you don't have the sea, it doesn't make sense to eat fish.

What's the point of eating cow in the Maldives if they don't have cows. If you don't have the sea, don't eat fish.
  • Participate in shark education and conservation campaigns to raise awareness in our communities.

  • Encourage the media to show a more accurate and respectful image of sharks in their content.

As divers and hosts of the sea, it's time to look past sharks' notoriety and appreciate their value in the wild. together, we can all work towards a future where sharks are respected and protected rather than feared. And if someone asks you if sharks are dangerous, answer them that the animal we fear the most in the Tribe is the MOSQUITO


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