Shark con­ser­va­tion

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Welcome -

Does fear of them af­fect how we pro­tect them?

The larger sharks are ragged tooth or sand tiger sharks,” Deadly 60 pre­sen­ter Steve Back­shall says, point­ing at the 2m-long crea­tures swim­ming in lazy cir­cles in front of us. Fine, nee­dle-like teeth sprout from the front of their mouths like a bony pin-cush­ion. “Those teeth work by trap­ping fish as if in a cage, and they would never be able to eat a marine mam­mal such as a seal. The smaller ones are black­tip reef sharks. They’re ob­li­gate fish-eaters, too. And then, on the bot­tom, there are nurse sharks.”

We’re at the Lon­don Aquar­ium, and Back­shall is try­ing to put my mind at rest be­cause in a few min­utes we’re go­ing to be put­ting on masks and wet­suits uits and get­ting into the tank with the sharks. But hey – these sharks only eat fish, sh, so I’ve got noth­ing to o worry about.

Back­shall all is here rep­re­sent­ing ing the shark con­ser­va­tion char­ity Bite-Back, which in a pub­lic opin­ion sur­vey car­ried out to­wards the end of 2017 found out that more peo­ple are ter­ri­fied of sharks than of spiders, snakes and ro­dents com­bined. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of those poll polled said they would ra rather sharks didn’t exi ex­ist. Bite-Back’s fou founder and only paid mem mem­ber of staff, Gra­ham Buck­ing­ham, be­liev be­lieves this fear and loathing is one rea­son why hu­man hu­mans, as

a species, con­tinue to slaugh­ter sharks in al­most unimag­in­able num­bers – an es­ti­mated 100 mil­lion a year, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in 2013. Sharks are long-lived and slow ma­tur­ing and re­pro­duc­ing an­i­mals, and such a level of ex­ploita­tion is un­sus­tain­able.

THE JAWS EF­FECT

At­tempt­ing to get most peo­ple in the west­ern world to start feel­ing sym­pa­thy for sharks gen­er­ally screeches to a halt with the men­tion of a sin­gle word

Trump has Tweeted his fear of sharks.

Steve Back­shall is rais­ing aware­ness of shark con­ser­va­tion. In­set above left: a Jaws film poster.

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