Shark Conservation, What does it mean? Why protect Sharks?
Shark Tank Scuba provides a safe and fun environment for getting acquainted with these amazing sea creatures and learning of their vital importance in maintaining a healthy ocean environment. Humans’ love and fear sharks. However we feel about them, we need sharks in our oceans whether we know it or not. We can learn a lot from sharks and their natural instincts.
Ways Sharks Benefit Humans
- Sharks prey on weak, wounded, or sick animals, keeping the overall populations of their prey healthy. In areas where sharks are being hunted and killed, the population of algae eating fish are declining due to many mid level predators thriving on the algae-eating fish. Without enough algae-eating fish, algae can overwhelm a reef system, which decreases its ability to bounce back from bleaching and other disturbances. With so many advances in medical science and technology and so much unexplored ocean out there, humans failing to preserve our reefs and the ocean's inhabitants, could mean the possibility of destroying a potential treatment, medicine, and cure for humans in the years to come.
- Have you ever seen a shark sneeze? Didn’t think so. Shark tissue looks to contain antibacterial and anticoagulant properties that could be used for treating viruses and cystic fibrosis. Sharks get sick less often than most species. Once scientists noticed this and started asking why this is, they started discovering potential treatments for illnesses using shark tissue. Protecting sharks and keeping them in the ocean could have a long-term impact on health care for our future generations.
Sharks have six senses for both hunting and communication: vision, taste, smell, hearing, touch and electro-reception.
Shark's Eye Structure and Taste Buds
Like us, some sharks see in color and some are colorblind. Similar to our own as well; they have a cornea, lens, pupil and iris. However, their vision differs from ours in that they have a layer of mirrored crystals behind their retinas called the tapetum lucidum. This layer allows them to see well in dark or cloudy waters, in the deep sea, or at night.
Sharks have basic taste buds that line their mouth and throat so they can taste before swallowing in order to avoid dangerous prey. This is also perhaps why humans survived shark attacks, humans are not the choice food for most sharks, but sharks can’t tell till they’ve had a taste, so once they realize you’re not food they release.
Shark's Nose, Ears, and Lateral Line
Sharks smell like we hear. Water passing over their nostrils brings news of chemical signals or potential prey. As it hits ones side of their nostrils first they can figure out which directly the smell is coming from.
Sharks have ears in the form of two holes behind and above their eyes. They hear low frequency sounds to help them find prey.
Sharks don’t have fingers that they can use to feel and touch. Instead, like other fish, a shark has a lateral line running along the middle of its body from head to tail. The lateral line system is a series of pores that lets water flow through the shark’s skin, where special cells called neuromast can detect vibrations in the water. A fish swimming nearby displaces water as it goes along, creating ripples; when those ripples hit the lateral line system, the shark can detect both the direction and amount of movement made by prey, even from as far as 820 feet (250 meters) away. Because of this ability, they can sense prey in total darkness.
Not only can sharks detect vibrations through their lateral line system, but they also have a “sixth sense” of sorts that allows them to detect the small electric fields that all animals create when their muscles contract. Sharks detect the electrical fields through small pores on their head that are full of special cells called ampullae or Lorenzini. These cells are filled with a jelly-substance that conduct electric charges received from ions, like sodium and chlorine, which are found in salt water. When a fish moves its muscle to swim, the shark can feel it; when one is wounded and flopping around, it sends out a large electrical signal that will attract the shark.
Shark's Sense of Direction
"Sharks also use electro-reception to navigate. They can sense the Earth’s electromagnetic field, which likely allows them to migrate across large distances without getting lost. They can also sense objects in the water, allowing them to create a map of their immediate environment.” (The Ocean Portal Team; Reviewed by David Shiffman, University of Miami. ocean.si.edu/sharks. Accessed 2/28/2017)
Humans, almost by themselves are endangering sharks. Sharks are more susceptible to over fishing due to maturing slowly and producing a small amount of young in their lifetime. Armed with the knowledge and the love for sharks we can protect them for generations to come and enjoy.