The Blog Aquatic » shark conservation http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:21:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Sharks are Jawesome http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/10/sharks-are-jawesome/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/10/sharks-are-jawesome/#comments Sun, 10 Aug 2014 12:00:22 +0000 Jackie Yeary http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8971

Photo: Cheryl Black

It’s that time of year again—Shark Week!

We love Shark Week because it’s an entire week dedicated to one of the ocean’s coolest animals. With more than 500 species, there are a lot of reasons to love sharks! Here are some of our favorite shark facts.

  • Sharks belong to a class of animals called Elasmobranchs, which also includes rays and skates. The animals in this group have “bones” made up of cartilage—the same stuff that’s found in your nose and ears.
  • Sharks come in all shapes and sizes! The smallest species of shark, the dwarf lanternshark, is only 8 inches long! That’s about the size of a pencil! On the other hand, the whale shark is the biggest fish in the sea! It can be over 40 feet long and weigh 20 tons!
  • Sharks have lots of amazing adaptations to make them perfectly suited to live in their environments. The Goblin shark has a set of protusive jaws, which project from its mouth to catch prey. When you live in the depths of the ocean, it’s important never to miss a meal! And the bull shark?  It’s not just restricted to saltwater—it can swim in freshwater and brackish water to search for prey!

  • Sharks have electroreceptors on the sides of their body. This allows them to sense magnetic fields underwater. Scientists believe these highly sensitive receptors allow sharks to detect the muscular movements of their prey, as well as navigate during long journeys.
  • Speaking of long journeys—sharks travel far! They swim hundreds of miles across the ocean. One shark, nicknamed Lydia, recently became the first known shark to cross the mid-Atlantic ridge, an underwater mountain range separating the Eurasian and North American  tectonic plates.
  • Sharks eat just about anything. Fish, sea lions, and even other sharks. Tiger Sharks (who are sometimes called the “garbage disposals” of the ocean) have been found with tires, liscense plates and other trash in their stomachs.
  • Sharks have a lot more to fear from people, than people do from sharks. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year. And a recent report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that a quarter of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.

Want more shark facts? We’ll be sharing lots of shark content all week long! Tune into our Twitter account every night to see our live tweets of Shark Week’s programs.

We’re also hosting a Fin-tastic Google Hangout on Thursday, August 14th at 11:00 a.m. EST. We have several great panelists, including David Shiffman, Juliet Elperin, and Dr. Joe Quattro. You can submit your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #SharkWeekOC.

We’re looking forward to a great Shark Week, and we hope you are, too!

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/10/sharks-are-jawesome/feed/ 0
Sharknado: Attacks or Encounters? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/12/sharknado-attacks-or-encounters/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/12/sharknado-attacks-or-encounters/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2013 13:40:13 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6274 shark

Credit: Steve Garner via Flickr

If “Sharknado” taught us anything, it’s that shark “attacks” come in a variety of forms.

But some researchers are questioning how we talk about them.

In general, the term shark “attack” is used by the media and the public to describe all kinds of human-shark interaction—even when there’s no harm or injury, according to Christopher Neff of the University of Sydney, Australia and Dr. Robert Hueter, leader of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, who released a study earlier this year.

They suggest a new classification for “human–shark incidents” to support more accurate reporting about shark interactions. The categories, according to the press release:

Shark sightings: Sightings of sharks in the water in proximity to people with no physical contact.

Shark encounters: No bite takes place and no humans are injured, but physical contact occurs with a person or an inanimate object holding a person, such as a surfboard or boat. A shark might also bump a swimmer and its rough skin might cause a minor abrasion.

Shark bites: Bites by small or large sharks that result in minor to moderate injuries.

Fatal shark bites: One or more bites causing fatal injuries. The authors caution against using the term “shark attack” unless the motivation and intent of the shark are clearly established by experts, which is rarely possible.

While these interactions can at times be tragic, they can also lead to a calling—as a shark advocate. A show featuring the stories of some of these shark advocates was in last year’s Shark Week lineup.

“[Fear] is the biggest challenge we face,” one survivor told Ocean Conservancy last year. “Because people are so afraid, sharks are not the first animals people think of wanting to save. They think that sharks can take care of themselves, but they’re a lot more vulnerable than they look.”

Would changing the way we talk about attacks help save sharks? Listen to Neff’s TEDTalk below to learn more:

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/12/sharknado-attacks-or-encounters/feed/ 11
Shark Attack Survivors Fight to Save Sharks http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/15/shark-attack-survivors-fight-to-save-sharks/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/15/shark-attack-survivors-fight-to-save-sharks/#comments Wed, 15 Aug 2012 21:10:42 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2317 tiger shark

Copyright Matthew D. Potenski 2010

Eight years ago, Debbie Salamone was attacked by a shark in the shallow waters of Florida’s Cape Canaveral National Seashore. The shark severed her Achilles tendon and led her to question her two-decade career as an environmental reporter.

After surgery and months of recovery, she came to realize that if she loved the ocean, she had to love everything in it – even sharks.

Sharks play an important role in the ocean ecosystem, Salamone explains. Removing these top predators – whether through overfishing or harmful practices like shark-finning – can have dire consequences that ripple throughout the ecosystem.

“I realized my unique position: Who could better speak up for sharks than myself and people like me?” she says.

Passionate defenders

After joining Pew Environment Group as a shark conservation advocate, Salamone reached out to shark attack survivors all over the world. She gathered a motley crew of willing advocates that include a World Cup soccer player from South Africa, a Wall Street businessman and a surfer from Hawaii.

Some are missing arms, others are missing legs – and one is missing an arm and a leg. But all of them are fiercely devoted to the cause: saving the animals that changed their lives forever.

“It gave us this incredible platform,” Salamone says. “If we can see the value in saving sharks, then surely everyone else can.”

The survivors are using that platform to urge world leaders to develop conservation plans, set shark fishing limits, enact trade protections and create shark sanctuaries.

The fact that people will listen to their message is critical, Salamone says, because most people don’t even know that sharks are in trouble.

“[Fear] is the biggest challenge we face,” she says. “Because people are so afraid, sharks are not the first animals people think of wanting to save. They think that sharks can take care of themselves, but they’re a lot more vulnerable than they look.”

Shark Fight

Salamone is hoping that “Shark Fight,” a TV special about the survivors airing during Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” will help educate people about the plight of sharks.

“This is the perfect show in terms of blending the drama of Shark Week with conservation,” Salamone says. “You’re getting the drama that’s interesting enough to keep people really intrigued so that when those conservation messages come out, they’re being heard.”

For Salamone and her fellow shark attack survivors, it’s an opportunity to turn a traumatic experience into something worthwhile.

“We can leave a legacy, and it’s not a legacy of fear – it’s a legacy of conservation.”

Shark Fight premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/15/shark-attack-survivors-fight-to-save-sharks/feed/ 2