Sharks are magnificent creatures. They tend to be associated with the top of the food chain and are many times unfairly perceived. They appear as menacing beasts in movies like Jaws or Soul Surfer, but also as a friendlier friend in Finding Dory. Many movies have tainted their reputation as being aggressive monsters, but if ONE single port in Japan kills one MILLION sharks every year then who are the beasts really? The number of sharks killed every year is unnecessarily high, it’s quite ridiculous. But they do not only face danger from fisheries, ocean pollutions are also taking their toll. In honor of shark week, I’m glad to explain how ocean pollution affects one more population.
When pollution contaminates the ocean, toxic chemicals infect almost all marine species. Even if an animal doesn’t intake the chemical directly (which is unlikely), it could still end up with toxins in their body because of an animal they have eaten that had been intoxicated. This tends to very often happen to sharks since they are usually high up in the food chain. We hear all the time about seals or fish being found with plastic in their stomach or their flesh having poisonous chemicals such as mercury, DDT, organochlorines, etc. Well, sharks EAT seals and fish (among other things), therefore, they wind up with horrible toxins in their body that ends up killing them.
Pollution doesn’t mean just chemicals, this we know. Plastic waste, nets, or abandoned fishing gear can deal it’s own destruction as well. Plastic is non biodegradable, and there is a ton of it in our oceans. So when a plastic bag is floating along, and a shark decides to have a snack, the plastic bag being an easy target and quick meal quickly begins to clog a shark’s tummy. A meal that does not decompose can prevent stuff from getting out or tricking the victim to thinking it’s full, eventually killing it. A large net may seem like it’s not a threat but once a shark is stuck, it’s not going to wait for a friend to come cut it loose, it’s going to try and get loose, in the process entangling itself in a fatal mess. Finally, many times, hooks or small pollutants can sometimes get caught or plug a sharks gills, gills are a very important part being where they breathe from, once you loose your source of oxygen life tends to spiral down, quickly.
Shark week is all about protecting the mistreated species and about learning more about them. Once you read more about them and about how their lives have been drastically changed because of the luxuries of ours, you may perceive them very differently.
My source to this blog post is Shark Savers (www.sharksavers.org), read more about how sharks are affected on their site!