To understand how an ancient species continues to serve as a profound influence over our planet’s climate health.
The Carbon Balance
Sharks have a unique ability to not only process carbon within their bodies, but also regulate carbon within the ocean. A shark’s predatory behavior of scavenging the sea floor for dead matter or hunting in seagrass meadows and coral reefs for prey keeps fish populations healthy and ecosystem habitats in balance by distributing carbon throughout the ocean. As a top predator, sharks are consistently maintaining healthy ecosystems consisting of ocean plants and marine life.
Sharks are majestic and amazing creatures who have been doing their part to help keep our Blue planet in balance for millions of years. Yet, within the last decade, shark populations have been overfished on a global scale, reducing their numbers by 150 million per year. This abrupt imbalance to the oceanic environment is starting to show its effects. Coral reefs are dying due to excessive amounts of carbon promoting out of control algae blooms which negatively affect the fish species who inhabit them. With shark numbers decreasing at the rate of 150 million a year, some shark species have seen 90% of their population extinguished and on the verge of extinction.
Environmental scientists are sounding the alarm because the window to reverse the environmental damage that has already occured due to the excessive amount of carbon in the environment is closing.The effects of climate change can already be seen in the planet’s extreme weather patterns, the melting of the ice caps, the rising temperatures and levels of our oceans, and the destruction of environmental habitats.
Countries around the world have committed to reducing their carbon footprint by focusing on ways to reduce carbon emissions. This focus includes protecting sharks and their vital habitats through conservation efforts by establishing shark sanctuaries. In an effort to educate cultures centered around the fishing industry influenced by generations of local fishermen, shark conservationists strive to influence these global markets by establishing shark sanctuaries where marine ecotourism can provide a larger financial benefit over traditional forms of fishing.