May 5, 2010
Saving Sharks - the simple explanation
I came across this photo by accident. It made me realize that the day may come when animals like this will no longer exist. They will only be a distant memory, an old photo. Why save the sharks? Dr. John McCosker gives the simplest explanation, without added emotion. His website says:
"In his decades-long career, McCosker has interviewed dozens of people attacked by sharks. Now he sees the tables turned. Sharks are under unprecedented attack by man. Tens of millions of sharks are being killed each year for the Asian sharkfin soup market. Their fins are hacked off and the sharks are dumped back into the ocean to die.
“It's tragic for sharks, and tragic for the ecosystem,” McCosker says. “Sharks are top-level predators for the ocean ecosystem. And the oceans are collapsing. When the sharks go, there are no controls,” says McCosker. “If there are no sharks, there are no safety checks.”
These safety checks protect the survival of the entire ecosystem. Once a top line predator disappears, the next species down the food chain expands in abundance and eats most everything that's below it in the food chain, and then their population crashes. The cascading effect can be seen today. As great whites disappear, sea lions have helped to decimate the salmon population.
“Eventually,” McCosker predicts, “we'll have nothing left in the oceans until we get to jellyfish.” If the sharks disappear, seals will soon have nothing to eat. As counterintuitive as it seems, that's why even seals need white sharks."