People always have a draped perception about sharks being ”brutal monsters out for our blood“ but is it so? If yes, then why would people continue to live near the coast line? This always stands in the way of their real importance. Sharks maintain a balance in the ecosystem by feeding on dead and weak fishes and are called as the apex predators of the food chain. Sharks are vital for maintaining balance in the ocean environment; they seem to be an immune system of the ocean. Just imagine! All the immune systems of humans have been taken away, what happened? You will feel sick and struggle for your survival. Here, in this article, we have enlisted some of the reasons why sharks are important for humans?
What makes sharks beneficial for humans?
Sharks are important to maintain the balance in the ecosystem and thus play a fundamental role in balancing life on Earth.
1: Sharks keeps the in check of food web
Many species of sharks are at the top of the food web and are known as “apex predators”. These sharks keep the in check of their prey and eliminate the weak and sick species out to conserve healthy population in the food web. The disappearance of sharks can disturb the chain reaction all over the ocean and even affect the lives of people on shores. This point can be explained in one sentence: we need the ocean and the ocean needs sharks!
2: Sharks are capable to cure diseases
Why don’t sharks get sick like other animals? It has bewildered many researchers but they have solved the mystery – the tissues in the skin of sharks have antibacterial and anticoagulant properties. Scientists have found out the cure to a number of medical conditions like cystic fibrosis and viruses by the use of shark’s skin.
Due to unsanitary conditions, more than 2 million people in hospitals suffers from healthcare infections in U.S, scientists were succeeded in creating an antimicrobial surface coating named as “Sharklet AF”, this technology helps to remove a wide range of infectious bacteria and prevents the superbugs from enter into the hospitals. Moreover, sharks are also beneficial for human beings to cure cancer as the backbone of sharks is used to treat cancer.
3: Sharks protect sea-beds and coral reefs
Over the time sharks have evolved along with their ecosystem, sharks protect their habitat by hunting herbivores instead of helping them. According to the studies in 2013, the loss of predatory sharks at coral reefs in the North Western Australia results in the decline of small herbivorous fishes and increase in the number of mesopredators. As a result, algae begin to grow in reef areas and limit their capability to rebound.
Similarly, a study shows that a tiger shark was roaming in the Western Australia’s Shark Bay where the seagrass beds were destroyed after the heat wave in 2011, it was reported that the areas where tiger sharks were wandering seemed to have recovered more quickly. The sharks only scare the other animals but do not kill them; it’s just as the fear of the sharks is enough to keep the ocean ecosystem healthy!
4: Sharks helps to alleviate climate change
Seagrass beds were undoubtedly protected by tiger sharks, seagrass beds covered about 0.2 % of the surface of the oceans which means almost 20 % of the atmospheric carbon was absorbed by sea grass beds in the ocean water. The disruption or complete loss of coastal seagrass beds not only disturb the local ecosystem but also eradicate the valuable buffers against global warming pollutants. Thus sharks play a very important role by protecting sea grasses and preventing the climatic changes induced by human activities.
5: Sharks boost economy of local people
Over the last few decades, the attraction of people toward sharks has flourished in the ecotourism industry in some regions like South Africa, the Bahamas, and the Galápagos Islands. According to some reports published 2013 depicting that shark tourism has generated more than 300 million US$ annually and is expected to be doubled in the next 20 years, such activities supports local businesses and provides jobs to the local people in different regions of the world. This shows that sharks are beneficial for the people and indirectly fulfils their demands and we have to understand and appreciate that “sharks are worth more alive than dead”!
What should we do to protect sharks?
We should take the following preventive measures to protect these ocean creatures from being endangered and extinct:
- Protect the shark’s habitat from marine debris.
- Avoid the use of unsustainable shark’s products.
- Keep the ocean shores neat and clean.
- Make keen selections when it comes to seafood.
- Make the use of shark’s fins illegal.
- Keep the sharks out of pledge.
- Gather more knowledge about sharks.
- Avoid body languages which make sharks uncomfortable while swimming.
- Show your love for sharks on social media.
- Avoid overfishing and overhunting.
Sharks are important for maintaining the balance in the ocean ecosystem and the health of the people of our planet. Despite their importance and helping nature, sharks have been threatened every day, so we should increase awareness among local people so that they will continue their efforts to guarantee that sharks will remain on the Earth, so that forthcoming generations may benefit from them. Now it’s all up to you how you will conserve sharks by avoiding unsustainable and harmful fishing practices and let them thrive in the ocean water happily!