Brian is a handsome, smart fella here at Morris Animal Refuge. Being a pit-mix, he understands first hand how negative narratives can attach an unfair reputation to his name. With a history of being abused and used for dog fighting, pit bulls are assumed to be angry, violent dogs. However, many pit bulls are sweet, loving family dogs with no more aggression than any other type of dog. Similarly, sharks have been depicted in movies and media as human hunting, bloodthirsty creatures. Truthfully, sharks have been historically abused by humans and tagged with the inaccurate label as a sea monster. In honor of Shark Week 2019, check out some myths about sharks, as well as tips on how you can protect these ancient creatures!
First, some facts!
- Sharks are old! Fossil evidence shows sharks lived 400 million years ago. For perspective, modern human fossils date back as far as 200,000 years ago, dogs have been domesticated for 15,000 years, and cats were seen as pests as early as 150 years ago.
- Sharks are more than Great Whites and Hammerheads. There are over 1000 species of sharks across the globe, many of which are threatened with extinction due to overfishing. Not all sharks are 8 feet long with razor sharp teeth either! They vary in size, diet, hunting style, and habitat preference.
- Sharks are a vital part of the oceanic ecosystem. Their extinction would have costly effects on the environment as a whole. Sharks help keep balance in the natural food chain and even eliminate ill or injured animals.
Our pit-mix Brian joined the Mythbusters to take a look at some common misconceptions about sharks.
- Sharks are human-eaters! Humans are not a shark’s natural food source. Unprovoked attacks on humans are often a case of misidentity. Sharks are looking for dolphins, seals, or large fish to consume when they run into humans.
- Sharks are not important! Sharks are apex predators and their presence is extremely important to balancing the oceanic ecosystem. Sharks maintain the species below them in the food chain, remove weak or diseased animals from the ecosystem, and maintain diversity in the ecosystem by balancing out competitor predators.
- Sharks are strong and nothing can hurt them! Shark populations are in rapid decline. Sharks take a long time to raise just a few young. With sharks often being caught for their fins or accidentally killed in fishing nets, their population can simply not keep up with the rapid decline.
Check out more myths about sharks in the links at the bottom.
Sharks need our help too!
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. Fish and other marine life eat plastic and pollutants. When sharks then eat these animals, they can get sick and eventually die. By keeping trash out of our waterways, we help sharks and marine life as a whole!
- Reduce seafood consumption. Fishing can deplete sources of food for sharks. Additionally, fishing nets often accidentally catch and kill sharks.
- Spread awareness on social media. Help sharks reverse the negative narrative around their name by spreading awareness about these amazing creatures.
- Learn about sharks! Take time to read about sharks. Do research on products that may have shark by-products hidden in them. The more you learn, the more you will respect these beautiful creatures.
Check out more ways to help sharks in the links at the bottom.
As advocates for animals, Morris Animal Refuge stands up for domesticated and wild animals alike. Thanks for reading and helping us spread awareness during #sharkweek! We all share the Earth and have a responsibility to protect all animals and their forever homes!SOCIAL SHARE