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Saturday, 22 April 2017 13:29

Sharks - Predator or Prey?

Sharks in the Water or Sharks out of the Water? Who’s the Real Predator?

Though accurately predicting exactly how many sharks are killed every year by humans remains difficult, estimates show up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins alone.1 

Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup. In fact, shark fins are now considered one of the most valuable commodities in the world. One Whale Shark fin can sell up to $100,000 while a Basking Shark fin can sell for $250,000!2

However, it’s not just the fin that is used. Shark products can be found in make-up, other beauty products, and deodorants. The most common shark product is called Squalene, which is shark liver oil!

Shark meat is also used in other seafood products but not always labeled. Pollock and rock salmon may contain shark meat. So, if you want to refrain from eating shark, make sure you inquire about your seafood products and ask if they contain shark meat. Shark meat may not be very healthy to eat.

“The sale of shark meat is also masked by transshipping, the process of transferring fish caught at sea from ship to ship, which makes the source harder to trace. Shark is particularly risky to eat because mercury bioaccumulates—the concentration of the heavy metal increases as it passes along the food chain, from plankton to shellfish, to small fish and onto larger predatory species.”3

So, what’s the big deal with my worrying about sharks? After all, sharks are predators, right?

Sharks are apex predators, but that does not justify endangering them. They are not roaming the streets and threatening our communities!

The risk of a human getting attacked by a shark is “1 in 11.5 million”4 compared to the risk of a shark being attacked by humans at a rate of approximately 73 million/year. Alarming!

We need sharks! Other organisms, such as scallops, need sharks! The fishing industry has been threatened in certain areas such as the Chesapeake Bay where we get scallops due to the decline of sharks in the ocean.

Sharks play other vital roles in our ecosystem such as keeping the balance in the ocean, providing the world with one-third of the food we eat, producing more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, eliminating manmade greenhouse gases, and effecting the weather on earth.5

However, with staggering numbers of sharks being killed, “99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities…”6 Sadly, the behavior that man is demonstrating is not unusual.

Some animals already extinct due to human causes are the Russian and Baltic beavers; the Caribbean Monk seal, the only seal that became extinct because of human error; the Sea Mink, hunted to extinction for its fur; and the Great Auk or the “original penguin.”

Unfortunately, they are not the only extinct species due to human causes.

Man seems relentless on destroying nature and its grandeur in exchange for greed, pride, and vainglory, and these disheartening stories of endangerment and extinction are only a few among many.

It is understandable that centuries ago, man was not as informed, enlightened, or aware of the overall devastation that extinct animals would cause to our planet. For some, hunting was their only livelihood. Ignorance as to other ways of making a living and feeding their families was at the helm of their barbaric trade.

However, what valid excuses can man come up with today when in fact we now know better?

I dare to say there are none!

The answer remains the same as to why these precious God-given animals are maltreated, underappreciated, and misused: A lack of love and gratitude for what we have been given by the Almighty seems to be the ongoing reason.

What does God have to say about this?

In the book of Genesis 1:26, it is written, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’ (NIV).7

Man was given rule over the animals or, in other words, dominion. Nevertheless, dominion does not include abuse!

In Proverbs 12:10, it is written, “The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel” (NLT).

That seems very clear! Love cares!

In Exodus 20:10, God commanded that man give their animals rest. “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates” (KJV).

God’s character, which is love, does not include abuse, disregard, or malice. It’s a biblical fact, that He wants us to care for His animals.

In Proverbs 27:23, it is written, “Pay careful attention to your flocks, and see to the welfare of your herds” (The Voice).

Usually when I write about animals, I emphasize what we can learn from them or maybe what we have in common with them. In the case of sharks, I struggle to find commonalities with them because, in the story of man versus shark, the shark seems like the prey while man seems like the predator. However, this is not because man fishes or eats meat, but rather because of how, how often, and for what purpose man kills.

I am not condoning or condemning a person’s decision to fish or eat meat. That is entirely up to each individual. However, I am suggesting that we stop and think about our planet and weigh out the consequences of avarice, egoism, and pretention, which seem too often the motives behind the destruction of these creatures and their habitats, which could possibly end yet another species.

When the balance is off, as it is with man versus shark, then the weight must be shifted in order to establish an equilibrium. At the rate man is going in regard to killing sharks, the scales will continue to tip in man’s favor until at last, like other species, sharks will become vanquished.

If we as humans weigh in love on that scale, sharks as well as all animals will have a chance of thriving thus keeping our ecosystem in perfect balance!

 

NIV-New International Version

NLT-New Living Translation

KJV-King James Version

1 Sharkproject. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://www.sharkproject.org/haiothek/index_e.php?site=gefahr_10.

2 Wildman, Paul. “Shark Fin Soup.” Shark Angels. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://sharkangels.org/issues-facing-sharks/shark-fin-soup.

3 Eco-Business. “Does your fish burger contain mercury-tainted shark meat?” Eco-Business. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://www.eco-business.com/news/does-your-fish-burger-contain-mercury-tainted-shark-meat/.

4 “Beach Injuries & Fatalities.” Beach Injuries & Fatalities: Florida Museum of Natural History. Accessed April 21, 2017. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/isaf/what-are-odds/risks-comparison/beach-risk.

5 Wildman, Paul. “Why We Need Sharks.” Shark Angels. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://sharkangels.org/issues-facing-sharks/why-we-need-sharks.

6 The Extinction Crisis. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/.

7 NIV-The Holy Bible, New International Version. Nashville: HarperCollins, 2011. Online.

Published in Animals & Nature

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