Why are sharks important?

Why are sharks important?

Most people will run away (or perhaps swim away) from a shark if they encounter one. We can’t blame them; it’s not like they have a reputation for being cute and friendly.

However, sharks play an essential role on our planet. But why are sharks important?

Since sharks are situated at the top of the food chain, they help keep in check fish populations that could be destructive. “Their intervention stops these populations from exploding and taking over a particular location,” Project Abroad says.

They can be seen as the ocean’s immune system. Like it would happen to a human, it would be very easy for us to get sick without an immune system.

Why are sharks important to the ecosystem?

As we mentioned above, they play an essential role in the ecosystem by controlling the species below them in the food chain. Sharks also help remove sick and weak animals, which allows for species diversity.

According to Oceana, in regions where the shark population has declined, the coral reefs and seagrass beds have also diminished.

“By taking sharks out of the coral reef ecosystem, the larger predatory fish, such as groupers, increase in abundance, and feed on the herbivores. With fewer herbivores, macroalgae expand, and coral can no longer compete, shifting the ecosystem to one of algae dominance, affecting the survival of the reef system”, Oceana wrote.

Why are sharks important in the economy?

It may seem incredible, but it is true. Sharks also play an essential role in the world’s economy.

According to Oceana, the loss of great sharks in North Carolina (United States) increased ray populations. This caused hungry rays to eat all of the bay scallops, which forced fisheries to close.

Another way sharks influence the economy is through ecotourism. In the Bahamas, a single live reef shark is worth $250,000 because of dive tourism, according to Oceana.

Sharks could hold the cure for some diseases

Sharks are also important because of their tissue properties, which appear to be antibacterial and anticoagulant. For this reason, scientists are studying them to find treatment for several diseases in humans, such as viruses and cystic fibrosis.

Another way sharks contribute to our planet is by helping keep the carbon cycle in motion. They do so by feeding on dead matter on the seafloor since they are scavengers.

Sharks Inspire Design

Perhaps you have not thought about it yet, but sharks inspire smart design. People imitate sharks to design better swimsuits, less resistant in water, for example.

women wetsuit

Extinction of sharks, is that possible?

Yes, and not only is it possible, but it is a reality. The extinction of sharks has been taking place for some time worldwide, and humans are to blame.

Projects Abroad wrote in an article published on their website that approximately 11 thousand sharks are killed every hour. It is equivalent to three sharks per second.

The main reason sharks are killed for is illegal fin trafficking. The sharks are caught, their fins are cut off and then thrown back into the ocean.

Without their fins, a shark cannot swim, so they sink to the bottom of the ocean and die or get eaten by other predators.

Overfishing is something else contributing to shark extinction. “When fish populations decrease, humans have to cast their nets wider and end up catching other animals, such as sharks,” you can read in Project Abroad.

What would happen if the extinction of sharks occurs?

If sharks were to be extinct from Earth, even though they have been on this planet for more than 450 million years before there were any humans, our ecosystem would be significantly affected.

White Shark Projects confirm that when an apex predator, like a shark, is removed from the ecosystem, the next in line will blossom. However, this is only temporary because they would overeat their prey to the point of extinction.

They assure that a destructive chain of events would occur. An increase in algae would choke coral reefs and eventually kill them.

“If coral reefs die, thousands of species will lose their habitat”, White Shark Projects assure.

Also, sharks are an important food source and income for local communities. If they were to be extinct, it would affect thousands of people, maybe millions.

Besides the direct destructive consequences for the marine ecosystem, it would take away a significant food and income source for local fishermen and coastal communities.

Summary

In conclusion, all of this information indicates how important sharks are to our planet. Without them, we would be in trouble in many aspects of our lives.

Why are sharks important? Because they help balance our ecosystem, contribute to keeping the carbon cycle in motion, are a source of income and food for local communities, inspire designers, and could hold the answers to some human diseases.

About The Author

Steph Copeland

I am a marine expert that has a passion for sharks and the preservation of the oceans. I would like to help people feel safe in the water so that they don’t fear sharks.

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