Published February 25, 2015 | Diving, Duiken

SCUBA diver point of view: Killing Sharks is STUPID

I’m guessing everyone seen the weekly or even daily “cry outs” on TV and social media channels about ‘stop shark finning’, ‘protect our ocean’, ‘join shark conservation project’ and all sorts of other shark and ray protection issues. Why?!

Well, just think about these topics and you find the answer to that question. Even if you are a scuba diver or not!

–       Why are sharks so important

–       What if there were no sharks anymore

–       What is the greater value of having sharks around

Scuba Diver point of view: Let’s start with why sharks are so important

Sharks are often the top predator in their ecosystem which means that they are on top of many food pyramids; followed by Carnivore (Grouper, Trevally, Barracuda etc.); followed by Grazers or Herbivores (Rabbit fish, damsels, parrot fish etc. who eat plants) and on the bottom you find the macro algae’s like seaweed or Phytoplankton which are the primary producers in other words the base of the food chain.

Food chain pyramid sharks

In real life a food chain is a complex web and most animals are linked to each other in multiple food chains. But let’s try to keep it bloody simple ;-). The importance of the apex predators in this case the sharks, is that they keep the food chain in balance by ensuring no species over populates and remove sick and injured animals. This brings me to the next topic:

Scuba Diver point of view: What if there were no sharks anymore?

As you probably know is that big fish eat small fish that eat smaller fish, which eat algae. So removing an animal like a shark out of the food chain can have disastrous impact throughout an ecosystem.

Imagine there are no sharks anymore; the big fish eat all the small fish hence no algae will be eaten, result is green algae beaches! Ugghhhh…

Sand beach turns into algae beach

green algae beach At this point overfishing is the main cause of the decline in shark population. The vulnerability of sharks is that they don’t breed as often. A few facts:

–       It takes them a long time to get sexual mature, as from 12 years old

–       Can only breed every 2nd or 3rd year

–       Small number of pups (baby sharks)

–       Their pregnancy is about 8 – 12 months

Each year 100 million sharks get killed by human, either by killing them for their fins or through by-catch and of course overfishing, illegal fishing and so on. This 100 million is still an estimation, because you can sense that some fishing nations have different reporting requirements or even worse; some governments don’t see the importance of having a report system…

bull shark found dead on Thai market

reef sharks found dead due to shark finning

shark-finning

So if the world doesn’t do anything about it, we don’t have the gorgeous beaches and the stunning scuba dive spots anymore. Popular scuba dive destinations, local restaurants, hotels, local home stays, dive center and other tourism related venues can close their doors….and that’s not what we want!

Scuba Diver point of view: So what is the great value of having sharks around?

Having sharks alive has a much greater value in terms of tourism dollars, ecological stability but mostly import to us as scuba divers. Did you know that 1 reef shark in Palau brings 108 USD when fished, but 1 reef shark over its life time will earn the country +/- 1.9 million USD and the tourism that attracts the reef shark by snorkeling or scuba diving brings the nation 18 million USD!

Just have a look to this chart of different location for scuba diving and the value of having sharks around (Shark Savers).

LocationActivityValue (per year)Reference
FijiSharksUS$ 42.2 millionVianna et al. 2011
Fr. PolynesiaLemon sharkUS$ 5.4 millionClua et al. 2011
MaldivesSharksUS$ 38.6 millionMartin et al. 2006
PalauSharksUS$ 18 millionVianna et al. 2012
SeychellesSharksUS$ 4.5 millionTopelko and Dearden 2005
SeychellesWhale SharkUS$ 4.99 millionRowat and Engelhardt 2007
South AfricaTiger SharkUS$ 1.7 millionDicken and Hoskings 2009
South AfricaWhite SharkUS$ 4.2 millionHara et al. 2003
West AustraliaWhale SharkUS$ 5.5 millionCatlin et al. 2009

So yes having sharks around benefits the local community:

–       Tourist pay to stay at a local hotel, restaurant during their scuba dive holiday and destinations

–       Hotel uses that money to pay for goods and services

–       This in turn serves as income for the tourist industry of that particular country.

Hope after reading this blog hope you understand how stupid killing sharks is.

It’s up to you what you want to do with it. We are not asking to donate now to one of the numerous movements existing (but if you want, please do!), we are not asking you to change the world overnight, we are not asking to pick arguments with local governments or fishermen etc.…The only thing we ask is please spread the word, please care about the environment and please start educating others without you being the ‘mighty professor’, but simply because you care, you have some info about it and love to have a friendly discussion about the topic.

Bet there is going to be a small change at some point!

So now I hope you understand my scuba diving point about Killing Sharks is STUPID

Cheers,

Kim

Scuba Center Asia

[email protected]

www.scubacenterasia.com

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