Sharks: They are Dying!?

Maesyn L. Pollock, Hour 1

Sharks have been around for millions of years, with arguably the most popular, the great white, having been around for 70 million. However, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) a quarter of sharks today are threatened with extinction. So how is it that a species which spans so far back is under the threat of extinction today? 

Do Sharks Attack Humans

In a survey of 49 SPASH students, over 50% responded that they were afraid of sharks. It seems from a young age many people develope the idea that sharks are murderous beasts set on ending you if you so much as step into the ocean. But does this notion hold any merit? It is true that sharks are carnivorous animals, however they rarely attack humans.

According to, a website dedicated to facts about animals, there are only between 5-10 shark attacks per year, which is a very small number when compared to the over 100 million shark deaths annually. Infact, the odds of being bitten by a shark is 1 in 3,748,067 and more people died between 2011 and 2017 in photo related accidents than by shark attack.

While most students replied that they were either afraid or not afraid of sharks, there were a few responses that met somewhere in the middle. One student said, “I am afraid of what sharks can do… I am not afraid of sharks themselves because I know they are actually very nice to humans when they aren’t confused… Humans are not normal for the diet of sharks and shark attacks aren’t nearly as common as people think.” Another student responded, “The idea of being attacked by a shark terrifies [me], but if I was swimming and saw one I don’t think I would be scared because I know they hardly ever attack humans.” Both students seemed to have the general idea that yes, sharks have big chompy mouths that could grind you into mush, but they probably won’t because they aren’t too interested in that, which is a good assumption. 

Why Sharks are Hunted

Sharks are hunted for mainly one reason, yummy and delicious food. Shark fin soup is a very fancy dish in eastern Asia, and as the name suggests it is made with the fins of sharks. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics found that from 2000 to 2011, shark meat imports created a massive value of $378 million! That’s quite a few dead sharks! 

While shark meat is largely available to the world, shark finning has restrictions in many places and the sale of shark meat is banned in 14 states in the U.S. Other than food, shark skin is used for leather and shark cartilage for treating cancer amongst other things. 

How Pollution Plays Into Shark Extinction 

Another crazy reason sharks are DYING and will be DEAD and go EXTINCT is because of what we lowl

Shark with plastic wrapped around its body found in Winyah Bay, South Carolina (Image credit: Daniel Abel)

y humans are doing to the environment. Neglection of our planet and the other animals inhabiting it have led to many other extinctions of animals and sharks are no exception. Sharks, like many other fish, are susceptible to choking on and being entangled in plastic waste dumped into the ocean. 

In 2019, scientists documented over 1,000 instances of sharks and rays getting trapped in plastic litter. In a particularly sad discovery, a marine biologist at Coastal Carolina University, Daniel Abel, while researching in Winyah Bay, South Carolina, found a shark that had a ring cut all around its body. 


Should Sharks be Kept as Pets

There are tiny sharks and big sharks. The biggest shark is the whale shark and there are quite a few adorable tiny sharks like catsharks and epaulette sharks . Some people think keeping the tiny sharks as pets is a good idea but it actually isn’t?!

Sharks have been found to eat way less in captivity than in their natural habitat. Another problem with owning a pet shark is that sharks need a lot of space as even the tiny ones can grow to be at least a couple feet long and need lots of space to swim. Like tigers and monkeys, some animals just aren’t meant to be pets and should be left alone in the wild where they belong.

There is a lot that can be done to ensure that shark species do not go extinct including regulations to prevent overfishing, and banning the captivity of sharks. Sharks are beautiful and majestic fish that do not deserve to die forever. Let’s hope that things get better for sharks and they continue to prosper for millions of more years!