It wouldn’t be news if I told you our planet has its environmental problems. We’re making some progress in controlling what we put into the air, put into our landfills and even put into our oceans. But we’re not paying enough attention to what we are taking out of our oceans – sharks – and they’re being killed at the rate of up to 73 million per year. That number refers to the number being killed only for their fins and almost entirely to make shark fin soup. You may not really care much about sharks but our oceans account for about half of the planet’s oxygen supply and sharks play a key role in maintaining the health of the oceans. I have to admit that until recently I didn’t know much about sharks, or cared to. Then I saw the television documentary Sharkwater and it changed forever the way I look at sharks. So I decided to do some research. When sharks are mentioned it sends shiver down many a spine. Maybe you’ve seen the movie Jaws or heard a man-eating shark story, or both. Even if you’ve never seen a shark outside of your local city aquarium you probably still think of them as villains. If you feel this way, you’re not alone, but it might surprise you to know that although there are more than 350 distinct species of sharks, only a few even bother with humans. The giant Whale Shark doesn’t even have teeth. Shark-like fish have been in existence for about 400 million years and even before the dinosaurs. Mother Nature put them in every ocean but, because they are resilient, she built in a number of natural controllers: relatively short life spans (20 to 30 years), long gestation periods, small number of young, and slow maturity rates. With all these constraints, they basically regulate themselves. But what she didn’t count on was the human factor. 73 million sharks a year are being served up to make celebration soup. As of late 2009, the world’s population of sharks had already diminished by 50 to 75%. A North Atlantic population survey...
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