The Importance of Shark Conservation


Tracking of Hammerhead Sharks off Mexico’s Shores: Why does it matter?


For readers who aren’t aware, this blog is a product of my Honors English 1102 class. Its theme and posts are all works for the class, and the blog format is provided to help the class learn about modern literacy. So as a forewarning, as the semester comes to a close you’ll most likely see my posts a lot less often. However, I do plan on continuing upkeep of this blog and hope you continue to enjoy reading my ramblings. Since this is my last assigned post, I thought I would take it in a little different of a direction than normal. Rather than a human rights issue, I’d like to discuss an animal rights issue. And since sharks are this blogs impromptu mascot, what could be a better subject?

Hammerhead sharks are one of the most unique species in existence, hence why they are so well known. It’s hard to miss their characteristic face and potbelly. But what many people don’t know is how important their migration patterns are, not just to themselves, but to the entire oceanic ecosystem. As this article here explains, a young female shark was tracked for over 3,000 kilometers, at various depths.

Hammerheads swim in large groups for protection and hunting. Much like wild dogs, they are pack hunters who rely on sensory cues from their pack members to take down large prey, such as whales, squids, or even other sharks. This drive comes from a young age. Since the “shark pups have high metabolic rates and need to keep eating to grow,” they migrate long distances in search of better food, forming large groups as time passes.

However, this takes the sharks well outside of protected waters and into dangerous fishing zones. In Mexico, where schools of the sharks were once a tourist attraction, this is especially apparent. The Sea of Cortes is now nearly void of the majestic fish, and deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico greatly threatens the species. Scalloped hammerheads, a common subspecies, is particularly at risk. No-fishing zones within 50 kilometers of the shore have helped some, but with the wide range these sharks travel, it is simply not enough. The nursing grounds for the pups off the coast of California are not considered to be protected areas, and therefore the most vulnerable of the species are at the greatest danger of being harmed.

Without sharks, commercial fishing will experience significant downfalls. Predators set the population of an area. When there is no threat, many species do not reproduce, and the ones that do overtake the area, and throw off the balance of the local ecosystem, thus killing even more fish. Large sharks like hammerheads also keep smaller species populations in check, such as the Port Jackson shark, which is a notorious over-eater, often preying on small crustaceans and corals which are needed to keep the waters clean. Hammerheads also have one of the lowest human fatality rates, as attacks by them are so rare. However, large schools of hammerheads deter Great Whites and Tigers from coming in too close to populated shores, thus protecting the people who frequent there.

Hammerhead sharks, like all sharks, are an irreplaceable element of the ocean. Without them, there is environmental chaos. If you are interested in learning more and possibly donating to shark conservation organizations, please visit the following websites: The WWO, Discovery Channel’s SharkWeek Conservation Effort, and SupportOurSharks.

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About Jessie

I'm just a college student stuck in the deep south with very few plans for the future. I like to talk about new wave feminism, guns, classic cars, fish, how outrageously gay I am, and really bad jokes. I don't get out much unless its a GoodWill run or I'm out of mac and cheese. Sometimes I do cute date things with my partner, other times I just stare wistfully at all the cute snakes I'll never own.

Posted on December 11, 2014, in The Noises and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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