Just one century ago our grandparents and great grandparents in the U.S. and in Europe made the terrible mistake of killing off the large terrestrial predators, like the wolves, panthers and bears. This attitude was driven by a baseless fear and the backwards notion that “the only good bear is a dead bear.” The result of the misguided policy was the extinction of these animals in part or all of their range and an imbalance in their prey species, such as deer.
Our generation cannot afford to make the same mistake in the ocean because some of us are afraid of these animals or because this slaughter happens miles out at sea where no one sees it. The results of the loss of sharks, the true apex predators of the ocean, will have effects beyond our imagination and beyond our current ability to understand.
If we look at the conservation of sharks from a more selfish, human centered point of view, they still have so much to offer. Sharks may have been some of the first animals on earth to develop an immune system and seem to have an ability far greater than ours to resist cancers and other diseases. Certainly we can learn something from these ancient creatures that will have lasting benefits to all humans.