Disappearing From the Deep

About forty years ago sharks swarmed our oceans. Due to years of over hunting the shark population has dramatically declined. The 1970’s through the 1980’s, La Paz Mexico was flooded with hundreds of Hammerhead sharks. There, hundreds of female sharks would circle the Baja mainland. The fittest of the females would swim along the middle of the ring. This pattern gave the male sharks a way to identify the best female to mate. This massive amount of sharks attracted many scientists, and photographers. Soon fishermen joined the shark gathering. Fishermen went where ever the sharks gathered, in an attempt to accommodate the high shark fin demand in Asia. Through 1985 and 1998 the trade of sharks increased more than 214 percent. One study suggested that the global trade was about 73 million sharks, and about half a billion dollars. This massive amount of hunting diminished the shark population, and left La Paz drained of Hammerhead sharks.

In 2011 Taylor Chapple, a shark scientist came to the La Paz waters to prove a well accepted theory, that hammerheads, and maybe other sharks find their way through the water by sensing magnetic currents. He planned to capture four sharks, then attach a magnetic transmitter to it’s head, and return it to the wild. As the shark swam Chapple would change the magnetic current with a remote control. If the theory proved correct, Chapple would be able to control the direction of the shark. But Chapple and his team suffered one major problem; there were no sharks in La Paz. In two months of searching Chapple and his team were unable to find a single shark. La Paz, an area that was one riddled with sharks, was now a place where no sharks could be found.

St. Paul’s Rocks was once highly populated with Galapagos sharks. Now St. Paul’s Rocks has zero Galapagos sharks. Currently only 3 percent of the northwest Atlantic Ocean’s Tiger sharks are still alive. The Mediterranean Sea has lost 100 percent of its hammerhead sharks. These a few of the many examples of the ever declining shark population. Right now, around the world, most known shark species have declined at least 90 percent. This startling statistic has led many scientists to aid in the building of Marine Protected Areas (MPA).

Today many scientists are working to understand the movements of sharks. If we can understand their migration pattern, it will greatly affect any attempt to preserve the shark population. They are predatory fish, which means sharks mature slowly, and infrequently reproduce. Even if we are successful in creating Marine Protected Areas, their numbers will not return quickly. Though in some areas sharks do appear to be making a comeback; like in Cabo Pulmo, one of the world’s most effective marine protected areas. Some sharks originally thought are to be extinct to that region have been returning. Some countries, like Mexico are willing to create and regulate MPA’s. Efforts like these can bring the sharks out of near extinction.

This entry was written by Kira M. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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