Sometimes the worst news can bring about new protection for animals. So could possibly be the case for a few species of shark. On March 1st, 2013 a new study came out that dramatically increased the estimate for the number of sharks killed on an annual basis. The old estimate was roughly 70 million sharks killed every year. The new estimate, that is just a few days old is a massive 100 million. That is roughly 100 million sharks killed each and every year. The primary reason sharks are literally being exterminated has nothing to do with anything natural. It has to do a lot with human greed and that is about it. Shark finning has continued to run rampant throughout the world. Despite certain states, nations, and cities banning shark fin soup, there is still a massive demand for it in China. After another year of studies, there is still no proven health benefits to eating shark fin soup, so it remains a status symbol and nothing more. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are exterminating one of the world's oldest creatures to show off status. Terrible isn't it? Well it is the truth. People claim that shark fin soup has all of these positive effects on the human body, but not a single one of them has been proven. What has been proven is the exact opposite. That shark fin soup can lead to several health issues and even mercury poisoning. The FDA would not be telling people not to eat the soup if it was good for you. Despite how heartbreaking this news is, it could finally propel CITES to give certain species of sharks to get the protection they so desperately need.
From March 3rd-March 14th, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES) will be looking over 71 different proposals. Personally I am most interested in those that deal with sharks and manta rays. Under the proposal, the oceanic white tip, porbeagle, smooth hammerhead, great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, and all species of manta ray would become part of Appendix II where the basking shark, whale shark, and great white shark currently reside. Appendix II requires that anyone wishing to catch these sharks must have a license to do so. Those who are caught doing so without a license would be severely fined, possibly jailed.
At this point I feel that this really has to pass. It needs to become a part of CITES. Hammerheads are one of the Oceans most interesting animals and they are being wiped clean off the map. Porbeagles and white tips travel all over the world, yet they are being wiped out. Manta rays, one of the gentle giants of the seas, are being wiped out. What they all have in common is that man is their greatest threat and last hope. More and more people are becoming aware of the plight that sharks are facing, but the issue is few have any power to do anything about it. We, as normal people simply have to keep driving the facts to the governments of the nations in which we live to step up protection for these animals. 100 million a year? I am 23 years old. My guess would be by the time I'm 33 several famous species of shark, including all three species of hammerheads will be gone. How scary is that. An animal that I was always curious about as a kid and now respect as an adult, simply gone for a bowl of soup. There is still time to save these animals. With each day that passes by though, that time gets shorter and shorter. For those of you who are my age and plan on one day having a family, I don't know about you, but I would love nothing more than to be able to one day have my child learn about sharks in science class as an animal that still swims in the Ocean and not an animal that is either gone from the Earth or would soon be gone. If you are older and are reading this, than think of your grandchildren or children. Do you want them to see the day, along with yourself that species after species of shark goes extinct? For those who are younger and might somehow be reading this. I hope the day comes where you meet a shark, either in the wild or in an aquarium before they all vanish. When you do I hope you are able to see that what you are looking at is not a monster. It is not a creature put on this Earth to eat people just the same as it was not put on this Earth to be totally destroyed for human greed.
The end point is this truth. Regardless as to how old we are, the time to save these animals is now before it is too late. Extinction is forever. Once these animals are gone we will not be able to get them back. They will go the way of the dinosaurs, and I am sorry to say that the ramifications of them vanishing will be far, far more dire than when the dinosaurs went extinct. Remember, sharks are at the top of the food chain, when the top link falls, the whole thing falls apart. We are now the predators, sharks are now the prey.
***I will update this blog as decisions begin to emerge from CITES. I will update this even if Operation Sadistic Truths ends before any decision is made. CITES will be going on until March 14th, 2 days after the end of this operation***