Attitudes Towards Sharks Changing

This year's Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species was a successful one for several shark species and shark conservationists. The convention, which brings almost 200 nations together biannually, ruled five species of shark endangered. Three species of Hammerhead, the Oceanic Whitetip and Manta Rays now require permits to be exported, which is a step in the right direction.

Tara Helle, of Slate.com, recently discussed the contemporary shift in attitudes towards sharks, reflecting that we have seen a shift from 'save the whales' to 'save the sharks.' The Shark Trade has year by year contributed to the risk of sharks as endangered species. Several populations of shark have declined by more than 90% in the last fifty years due to over-fishing. It is estimated that over 100 million sharks are killed a year, mostly for their fins. The Shark Fin Trade is growing due to the fact that a fin can bring in as much as $45 a pound. Hammerheads fins are the most valued, at $90 per fin.

Shark Fin, Endangered Sharks, Mako Shark

Workers remove the fin from a female mako shark in Mexico. Photo Credit: National Geographic

It is hoped that thanks to social media, word will spread quickly about the great risk to shark species. The concept of 'save the whale' was as foreign in the early 1970's as 'save the shark' now is. It is believed that is will be more difficult to change the attitudes of contemporary society towards the shark due to their largely menacing stereotype. We hope that people learn to see another side of the shark.

Sources: www.slate.com. (Sharks Are the New Whales by Tara Haelle).