Hello there! My name is Michelle Brown, and I am 13 years old. I attend Country Club Middle School. I’m writing this blog to clear the slandered name of sharks. Perhaps you have seen Jaws, and believe that sharks are vicious man-eating predators of the sea…? Well in my opinion, that is completely absurd! I hope that this blog entry will help you learn to see sharks in a different light.
When the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program came to my school, I learned many fascinating things. The most interesting part of the presentation was a section called the Number Game. I learned that more people die from lighting strikes than from shark attacks. Surprisingly, HUMANS bit more than 1,600 other people last year in New York City alone, compared to the 79 people mistakenly bitten by sharks in the same year. Sharks tend to bite people when we look confusingly similar to their prey (fish, seals, etc), but they really just look for those animals that are dead, diseased, or dying. Consider sharks the janitors of the sea.
My favorite species of shark is the whale shark. I honestly like the species because of its gentleness. Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, measuring up to 45ft in length. Some researchers estimate they can live to be as old as 60 years, though no one really knows for sure. Also, the whale shark is a filter feeder, so it cannot bite or chew.
There are many actions that can be taken to help save sharks. For example, litter can kill sharks and other marine animals. Thus, recycling and properly disposing of your trash at the beach can make a big difference. When catch-and-release fishing, using a circle hook instead of a J-hook can greatly increase the chances of survival for a hooked shark once it is released. Do your part to protect our oceans!
Sources: Knickle, Craig, and Carol Martins. “Whale Shark.” Ichthyology Education. Florida Museum of Natural History. Web. 04 Oct. 2011. <http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/descript/whaleshark/whaleshark.html>.