Sharks have gotten a bad reputation over the years. Yes, I agree they are scary and living in the Sunshine State where sharks abound they are things to be respected and regarded with caution. I am always tentative when I tip-toe into the waves because I have been in a close encounter with these sandpaper skinned fish. Although I did have the insides scared out of me, I still have carried on a love affair with these razor toothed enigmas that most people seem to not know much about. That is why I have become email acquaintances with some famous shark researchers over the years. You may know this pair from Discovery Channel fame and you probably have seen their photos and film. They were the first ones to realize and film Great White Sharks breaching. If you have ever seen this footage you were probably amazed at the power of these creatures; if you haven’t you should go to www.apexpredators.com and check out the film and photos. Chris and Monique Fallows have made great strides in shark conservation and research in South Africa. They have traveled the world documenting behavior, numbers, species and conservation issues influencing the health of these apex predators.
This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Shark Week, so I thought it only appropriate that I asked Monique for her take on the health of sharks. With all of the talk about global warming and climate change I asked her how this is affecting shark species. To my dismay she stated that it is really hard to say how climate change is influencing the species because of over fishing. She feels that fishing pressure, “on especially the pelagic sharks off the South African Coast (Mako and Blue sharks) is a major problem; so much so that there won’t be time for climate change to affect them because of the high rate of over fishing.” She shared with me an alarming statistic—7 million sharks are fished annually in South African waters and they have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of sharks they see on their research trips.
What is the importance of such a predator? Monique explained that with shark species being at the top of the food chain, they are “vitally important to the eco-system and to be honest, no one quite knows what problems will be caused as a result of wiping out the Apex Predator.” To me this is the scariest statement because we really don’t know what influence we are having on these creatures and the oceans’ health until it may be too late.
Monique and I share the same views when it comes to consuming seafood at restaurants or purchasing it at the market. Yes, I have admitted to being a nerd in the past, but I consider my Seafood Watch Card more of a knowledge card. It helps me decide which seafood items are safe to eat and how eating certain species is unhealthy for the ocean. You can download your own card on Monique and Chris’s site www.apexpredators.com. And in true environmentalist nature, Monique believes by just doing that small thing and understanding the environmental perspective on what the best choices of seafood are we can make a difference as individuals.
© Copyright 2007 by The
News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.
Top of Page