Monday, August 3, 2009

Shark Week...

So "Shark Week" is going on right now on the Discovery Channel. "Shark Week" has long been one of my favorite weeks for TV on Discovery, because I am fascinated by and love sharks.

I was searching around the net today and I found a blog post by a guy at the Baltimore Sun where he asks why people are interested in "Shark Week." Now, normally, I don't post on random blogs that I found, but I found it necessary for me to make a comment.

Here's what I wrote, and this is why I love "Shark Week" so much.

"I watch for several reasons. First off, sharks are much more important to our ecosystem than most people understand. I'm willing to be that 100% of the people out there that you ask "What provides the most oxygen for our atmosphere?" would respond "The rain forest, or some other forest." That's incorrect. Green algae and other forms of algae provide over 70% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. The problem is, as sharks numbers dwindle, the amount of algae that's in the ocean is also going down, because there aren't enough predators to kill off the fish that eat the algae. So as we continue to destroy the sharks natural habitat, and continue to kill them for no good reason, we are also depleting the things that create most of the air that we breathe.

Second, sharks are beautiful, streamlined, majestic creatures. In fact, they are by very definition a perfect creature. They are immune to many diseases. They are camouflaged perfectly. They have adapted to whichever ocean they live in perfectly. They are nature's perfect predator. They are the top of the food chain, and they have every reason to be. They've been around since before the dinosaurs, and will more than likely be along well after we have killed ourselves off. They've been on the planet for 450 million years...since before most plants were on the land. That's saying something.

Third, they are one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. Most people out there have a fear of sharks that comes from nothing other than a certain film that came out in 1975. That film consistently ranks highly on lists of "Top Horror Films" and with good reason. It single handedly made people scared to go in the water. The truth is, most sharks don't really want anything at all to do with people. Shows on "Shark Week" are trying to get the word out about these creatures, and about how most of the things they've seen in THAT movie aren't really accurate.

Fourth, and this to me is the most important reason...there are 90% less sharks in the ocean today than there were just 100 years ago. We are systematically destroying this creature for really no reason. Estimates put shark fishing at around 100 million animals per year. Most of them are fished for nothing more than their fins, then dumped back into the ocean so that they can slowly drown while not being able to swim. Watching "Shark Week" may be one of the only ways that people will be able to remember these creatures when they are gone.
Sharks are more important and more misunderstood than most other animals on the planet. If we don't do something to save them, they will be gone forever and we will begin to see the problems that will cause as our oxygen starts to deplete and then other changes occur in the climate and the atmosphere. "Shark Week" is a great way to get the word out about these beautiful creatures, and knowledge is power. Maybe with things like "Shark Week" going on we'll be able to ask our grandchildren if they saw any sharks while they were visiting the ocean...because at the rate it's going, they'll be gone before we know it."

Remember everyone, sharks aren't one of those cute animals that you see TV commercials about asking for money to help when their numbers start decreasing alarmingly. They aren't like pandas, or koalas, or any of those other furry little guys that everyone sees and goes "Oh, I should donate to help make sure they don't go extinct!!!" They aren't the type of animal that makes people do that, but that doesn't mean that they still don't need our help. Can't find anywhere to donate to help them?? Don't. Just get educated about these wonderful creatures, and try to spread what you learn around so that others can also learn to love them for what they are and why they are the way that they are. Nobody wants to see animals die off...and sharks are no different.

Save sharks, they are more important than most of us will ever know.

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