Having spent many hours diving under water and seeing what wonders lie below the Surface of the Ocean I am always very impressed when I encounter Sharks, the number 1 Apex Predator in its natural environment! They are such graceful creatures as they move seemingly effortlessly across the reef hunting for prey! We humans on the other hand must look very stupid and clumsy to them as we are all weird shapes and have bits dangling and sticking out and are constantly blowing bubbles! The Sharks and other Marine Creatures must really look upon us with amusement!
Without the many species of Shark to control other marine populations, the whole Marine Ec-osystem would fall into chaos as has happened in some areas of the world already! When the infamous book and movie Jaws by Peter Benchley first came out in the 1970’s it managed to cause a world panic and the aftermath of which was the wholesale slaughter of Millions of Sharks in every corner of the world and unfortunately, this trend still continues until today with leading Marine Experts estimating that up to 100 million Sharks are killed each year, a lot of these Sharks are caught alive, have their fins removed and then are dumped back unceremoniously into the Ocean still alive only to suffer a very slow and probably painful death!
In Australia, the Great White and Tiger Sharks were mostly killed with the result that the Seal Populations which were their main food were allowed to expand enormously just because there were no predators to keep the numbers in check and with this type of Unbalanced Population Explosion the local fish stocks came under great pressure and local fishermen lost their lively hood as a consequence! Sport fishing for Sharks is also a very big business world wide!
Because of the enormous market for Shark Fins, all around the globe Sharks are being hunted to near extinction in many areas! Sharks are very slow breeders with many species not becoming mature or able to breed until the age of around 20 years old and even then most sharks will only deliver between 1 and 20 young at a time! The Sand Tiger Shark gives birth to only 1 offspring at a time because while still in the womb the strongest pup will kill and eat the rest of it siblings and will be born fully functional like the mother only smaller! Some Sharks have live birth while others deposit egg cases on the sea bed!
As I was saying earlier, it is always a thrill to see Sharks in their natural habitat doing what sharks do! Unfortunately now, it is much more common to sea dead Sharks on the back of a truck or on sale by the roadside or in some market place! It is very rare nowadays also that you will see the complete Shark because usually they have already had their fins removed! Even the smallest of the juvenile sharks are treated this way, size or age means nothing to the local fishermen as it is a means to put food on the table for his family! Most fishermen do not target Sharks but do take them as bi-catch, there is no catch and release system in the Philippines!
There are some groups of fishermen who do actually target sharks by using multiple hooked long lines which are strung out over a long distance and are specially designed to catch Sharks! unfortunately these are the type of people who give fishermen a bad name because in order to find a good bait to put on their hooks to attract the Sharks they Harpoon Dolphins, cut them up and use them as the bait which to say the least is an especially unforgivable method of fishing which only the most heartless of people are capable of doing in order to fish!
The Philippine Government is talking of passing a bill to stop this stupid kind of slaughter by banning the landing of Sharks and Rays in the Philippines and also banning the use and sale of Shark Products including Shark Fin Soup any where in the country! Maybe if the Politicians can stop squabbling between themselves for a while then this bill might be made into a law!
If Sharks are allowed to be slaughtered in the numbers that they are today then I am very sure that the order in the Marine Ecosystem will collapse and the state of the Oceans will suffer damage leading to a disaster which not even Man and Mother Nature will be able to repair so its time to act now and find ways to stop the stupidity and stop this unnecessary Slaughter of such an important member of the Marine World! Lets hope that it is not already too late!
An easy way to show your disgust at such barbaric practices is very simple, if you go to a restaurant which has Shark Fin Soup or other Shark Products on the menu, inform the management that you disagree with this practice and walk out and find another place to eat! It might do some good, you will never know until you try!