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Save Sharks from Swimming Away Forever

AlexanderVasenin

Photo © Alexander Vasenin

One hundred eighty-one sharks and rays are threatened for extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, including the great white, the hammerhead, the oceanic white tip, and the whale shark. One wouldn’t think this possible, as sharks have been a top ocean predator for over 4 million years. But it’s the over/illegal fishing for their fins—used to make expensive Asian shark fin soup—combined with ocean habitat loss that have placed sharks in peril.

PeterKoelbl

Photo © Peter Koelbl

An estimated 25% of shark and ray species are threatened with extinction and require action. Every year, fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global fin trade. Fishermen capture live sharks, fin them, and dump the finless animal back into the water to die from suffocation or predators. Sharks and rays typically grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young. These traits render them particularly vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from depletion.

oldakquillThe good news is good people and good organizations are fighting to protect these sharks and rays, like our partners at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). In May 2016, an 18-month investigation into a sophisticated crime ring in Indonesia ended with the successful release of two whale sharks back into the wild unharmed. The whale sharks were being held in submerged pens, and WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit (WCU) intelligence suggests that the suspects illegally caught these animals and other marine megafauna for sale to facilities being built in China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. “The bust is a testament to the dedication of the Indonesian government, the work of the WCU, and the partnerships that the WCU has been building across Indonesia to combat illegal trade in Indonesia’s threatened marine megafauna,” said Dr. Noviar Andayani, Director of WCS’s Indonesia program.

You can help save sharks and rays from disappearing forever. Click here to donate.

SquareLogoProject Peril is a new program of GreaterGood.org to protect the world’s most threatened species. Whether tall like a giraffe or small like a bee, all life deserves a fighting chance in a world increasingly threatened by human influences. Project Peril identifies these key species on the brink of extinction and helps fund groups doing the best work to save these species around the world.

by Jim Kober, April 19, 2017