The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) has just updated its Red List of Threatened Species.
Sadly, due to human impact, two shark species have shown a dramatic drop in numbers – sufficient to move them from “Near Threatened” to “Endangered” rating – only one step away from “Critically Endangered”. After that, the next rating is “Extinct In The Wild” which would leave us with only a handful in a few large aquariums around the world.
The iconic Whale Shark is many people’s favourite shark to see and to dive with, due to their immense size (they can grow to over 60 feet in length), grace and majesty. Filter-feeders living on tiny plankton, they glide slowly through the oceans with their 6 foot wide mouths agape. Sadly, due to their great size and speed they are easy to find and catch. With shark finning causing 73 million shark deaths a year, the Whale Shark’s enormous fins are still in demand.
The Winghead Shark is a type of Hammerhead shark. They grow to around 6 feet in length. This species has a particularly large ‘hammer’ or cephalofoil, which can be as wide as half the total length of the shark. Sharks have special electroreceptors in their heads called Ampullae of Lorenzini. These receptors pick up the tiny electric fields given off by living creatures. The Ampullae of Lorenzini in the Winghead and other hammerhead sharks are spread out along the length of the hammer. This gives it a wider sensory area when it is swimming along the bottom trying to detect small crabs and fish buried in the sand – just like people do on the beach when they go metal-detecting.
Sadly, the size of the hammer on the Winghead Shark has made it particularly vulnerable to getting caught in fishing nets. This is even more of a problem for the Winghead Shark than some, because the Winghead Shark likes to live and hunt along coastal waters – where people can always be found fishing with nets.
So what can you do about it reader? This is our planet and we want it to thrive and survive, we have to think of it as our planet and all the plants and animals as ours to look after. Thank you for reading this article but what we would really like you to do next is to take action.
If you are not sure which charities to get involved with – please visit our Friends page for suggestions as there are some charities on there.
And remember to spread the word Sharkies! #ReplaceFearWithFacts