Every year people flock to beaches to get away from humdrum inland life and experience the tropical glory of the ocean. Most people are conscious of the creatures that inhabit these oceans, but in the case of the most sharks, it is for all the wrong reasons. People fear these magnificent creatures and do not understand the importance of their role in maintaining a healthy ocean. You can count the number of people that died from shark attacks last year on two hands. This hardly seems like something to be seriously concerned about as vastly more people die for much less feared reasons on a weekly basis.
Great white sharks are apex predators in the oceans. This means that they are the top predator responsible for controlling a variety of populations which, in turn, control other populations. If an apex predator is lost, then the entire ecosystem is thrown off. Populations that should be controlled grow wild and vastly decrease the numbers of the ones in which they feed. This causes the original population to die off as they run out of food. Health of the great white is vastly important as it has recently been discovered that they can live over 70 years which means they need longer to fully mature. The health of many oceans depends upon the great white.
The situation for the sharks is dire. Humans kill over 100 million sharks each year. Things such as bycatch, purposeful hunting, and accidents. These sharks that are purposefully killed almost never do anything to provoke their killers. It is estimated that over 90% of the predatory fish in the ocean have been eliminated by humans in the last 50-100 years. This number is alarming and contributes to unbalanced ecosystem and aids in the human destruction of oceans.
If the current trend continues, many shark species will be headed towards endangerment or extinction if they are not already there. Sharks currently represent the most threatened marine creatures on the World Conservation Union's red list. It is never a good thing when any species is lost, but it is especially detrimental when the species is of such vast importance.
All hope is not lost however. There are many things that can be done to save millions of sharks. Simple modifications to fishing gear or fishing techniques can save a huge amount of sharks lost from the fishing industry. A general knowledge of the creatures can lead to less deaths due to spiteful killings. A little extra attention when navigating the oceans can help to prevent accidents. As fascinating as sharks are it would be a shame to lose some of them for good. As humans, we need to stop trying to be the apex predators of the oceans and allow the creatures that were meant to be do their jobs.