Sharks have been around for approximately 450 million years, but haven’t needed to evolve much over the past 200 million years, why is this? Because they are the perfect predators and had very few predators themselves until humans began to aggressively target them. The life history traits of most shark species, including late maturity, slow growth rate low fecundity ( few offspring) make them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. According to a study done by the IUCN, 25% of all shark and ray species are threatened with extinction. The findings are part of the first ever global analysis of these species carried out by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG). Listed below are the reasons why sharks are disappearing at an alarming rate.
Shark Fin Trade
Shark finning is the practice of removing the fins from sharks once they have been caught in a fishery. Once the fins have been removed the shark is typically thrown back to the ocean. Without fins, the sharks are unable to swim and pass water over its gills, which results in the death either from suffocation or predation by other animals. Shark fins are used in a traditional Asian dish, shark fin soup and is among the most valuable fishery product in the world, with the price of fins reaching $US 700 per kilo ( per pound). This lucrative business has led to an estimated 26 million to 73 million sharks being killed every year to support this trade. Sometimes there is confusion regarding sharks fins and shark finning. Shark fins on the market did not necessarily come from finning, but they could have. Here are some definitions to help understand this issue.
Shark Fin Trade:
The texture is rough since is has small scales similar to teeth, called dermal denticles. Each species has a unique shaped denticle. They have a covering of dentine, a central pulp canal containing blood vessels and a single nerve. If you rub your hand along the body from front to back, there is little resistance and it feels smooth. However, when you rub your hand back to front, the skin feels like sand paper. The denticles play an important part in swimming efficiency. The water is channeled by the ‘skin teeth and flows across the fins and around the body. The teeth also break up the interface between skin and water, reducing the friction between the two entities. The teeth skin also help protect the shark from injuries and several elements in the water. It's like a suit of armor for sharks.