Sharks are one of the oldest species on the planet, with fossil records showing they were cruising our oceans at least 420 million years ago. Modern-day sharks have been around for about 100 million years – even that’s back when the dinosaurs existed! Sharks are not only top predators of the oceans, but also amazing travellers.
Nowadays there are over 500 species of shark, ranging from the tiny dwarf shark, able to fit into the palm of your hand, to the gigantic whale shark.
Shark finning in particular is an especially cruel and wasteful practice, in which just the fins are taken for food and the live animals thrown back into the sea where they will soon drown or be eaten by another predator. Shark Awareness Day aims to both dispel the fear, stigma, and misinformation surrounding sharks and also raise awareness of this creature’s plight, inspiring people all over the world to take action in their defense.
As apex predators, sharks play an essential role in the marine ecosystem by maintaining the food chain and serving as an indicator for ocean health. Let’s celebrate and spread awareness for this incredible fish, not just today but everyday.
“Sharks are among the top predators of the oceans. They have inhabited our planet for over 400 million years and are drivers of natural selection. However, in recent years they have suffered sharp declines due to overfishing and increased demand for their fins. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is one of the last remaining places on earth where large schools of several shark species can be found. Our work is focused on trying to understand the role that Galapagos and other oceanic islands play for these species, and how these islands connect different populations. Our team works with adult and juvenile sharks throughout the reserve.” — Alex Hearn, Adjunct Professor (Biology, UNC – Chapel Hill) and Professor, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences (USFQ)