Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sharks: Op-Ed from Aquarium Explorer-in-Residence

It's almost like clockwork. Every summer, as people flock to New England beaches to escape the heat, sharks make headlines. This summer is no different.

Of course, there's no question that sharks deserve a healthy dose of respect. They are top predators after all. But these powerful animals have evolved to help maintain balanced marine ecosystems — and health oceans are integral for our survival.

In an op-ed piece on The Boston Globe's website, Aquarium Explorer-in-Residence Brian Skerry is asking for a sea change in the way we think about sharks. Here is an excerpt from his piece:

"So with sharks making headlines once again, we should pause to consider the value of these misunderstood animals. Lets take our curiosity and intrigue about sharks to the next level and seek to learn even more about them. Awareness will be followed by concern, followed by conservation."

Read the entire piece.

Aquarium explorers have long shared their encounters with sharks, from a solitary great hammerhead shark to the reef dwelling sharks in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area to baby lemon sharks in mangroves. But these encounters may become fewer and far between. As Skerry writes, "we have lost an estimated 90 percent of shark populations to our own predatory behaviors like overfishing and “finning” sharks for shark fin soup." As Discovery Channel's Shark Week looms, consider the importance of these animals as you marvel the power and majesty of these apex predators.

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