Why We Need Sharks in the Ocean


Michelle Estevez

Although the 1975 thriller Jaws has influenced society to believe that sharks are anything but helpful to society or the planet, it is actually quite the opposite. The ocean ecosystem is a complex maze of different species all working together to keep our planet in balance, and that includes sharks.

Like other apex predators sharks dominate the top of the food chain, which means they also partake in a very important role in keeping the food chain going. While sharks main diet is sea turtles and other smaller fish, sharks will usually target the weak or sick in their prey helping to keep the overall population healthy.
Additionally if sharks were to go extinct their prey would most likely skyrocket in population while the species under them in the food chain(like herbivore populations) would decrease making the whole ecosystem off balance.

On top of that sharks hold up to 10% – 15% of carbon in their bodies. Eventually when a shark dies they sink to the bottom of the ocean floor, feeding the deep sea scavengers and ultimately recycling the carbon that was once in their bodies. On the other side of that, when deep sea scavenger sharks feed at the the bottom of the ocean they also help recycle the carbon.

In 2021 alone there was at least 47 reported incidents of shark attacks, and only one was fatal. The chance of someone getting bite by a shark is 1 in 3 million, Technically a person is more likely to get struck by lightning with a 1 in 1.2 million chance or by a falling coconut with 150 people getting injured every year.

However around 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year, which is a lot more than sharks have ever been reported to attack humans. One reason for this is because of fear in sharks or shark hunting, where people will kill sharks for sport, but one major reason for this decline in sharks is shark finning.

Shark finning is where fisherman will capture a shark and then cut off certain fins, after obtaining the fins most times they will throw the shark back into the ocean, but with no way to be constantly moving or swimming the shark will most likely die. The sharks fins will then be brought to the shore and sold for around $450.

Although shark fins can be used for medicinal purposes and merchandise, shark-fin soup is usually where the shark fins will go to use. Shark-fin soup is a delicacy in many Asian countries, but it is also popular in other places all around the world. Due to this popularity in the dish the need for more and more shark fins has grown, causing more shark finning and over fishing.

Despite shark populations showing a decrease, there are still many options to help sharks. Some options to support sharks would be by promoting sustainable fishing practices and seafood, decreasing the use of single-use plastics in everyday life, and even just spreading awareness to shark finning and shark populations to other people. Donating to conservation organizations also benefit sharks as well. Sharks benefit not only the ocean, but impact humans everyday and that is one of the many reasons of why we need sharks in our ocean.