Sharks: Mysterious, misunderstood —
and vital to humanity

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    EditImage Alt Text:Hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
    EditCaption Title:The oldest animals on Earth
    EditCaption Description:Sharks have been around for more than 400 million years, longer than the dinosaurs. There are more than 400 shark species, including the hammerhead, known for its uniquely shaped head, which enables them to see more of their surroundings and more easily find their prey.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn
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    EditImage Alt Text:A shark swims amongst the coral off of French Polynesia
    EditCaption Title:Apex predators
    EditCaption Description:Sharks are apex predators, meaning they reside at the top of the food chain. They’re essential to the balance of marine ecosystems, preventing overpopulation of other species — and supporting healthy fisheries that provide people with food and jobs.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Photo Rodolphe Holler
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    EditImage Alt Text:Tourists observing a whale shark in a shark sanctuary in Cendrawasih Bay in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago.
    EditCaption Title:More valuable alive than dead
    EditCaption Description:Loved and feared, sharks boost local economies through ecotourism. Shark diving, swimming and viewing generate more than $US 300 million a year, making sharks more valuable alive than dead.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock
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    EditImage Alt Text:Fishermen hold up carcasses of dead sharks caught in Raja Ampat.
    EditCaption Title:Overfishing threatens sharks
    EditCaption Description:Worldwide, sharks kill around 10 people per year. Humans kill up to 70 million sharks per year. Shark populations worldwide are declining by staggering rates.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Abraham Goram
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    EditImage Alt Text:Observers watch whale sharks swim in an aquarium in Japan
    EditCaption Title:The benefits of sharks
    EditCaption Description:Scientific study of sharks and their DNA is driving potential treatments for viruses and cystic fibrosis. Shark anatomy — from the surface of its skin to the motion of its tail — has inspired smart design for products such as watercraft, cars and water turbines.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Linda Schonknecht/Marine Photobank
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    EditImage Alt Text:Large whale shark swims past diver in Cendrawasih Bay
    EditCaption Title:People need sharks
    EditCaption Description:Conservation International works in seascapes around the world to protect the habitats that sharks depend on — because ultimately, we depend on sharks.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Mark Erdmann
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    Few species have thrived on our planet for as long.
    Few have so captured the human imagination.
    Fewer still have been so misunderstood.


    The very word evokes their incomparably streamlined look, perfected over millennia: Through 400 million years and four mass extinctions, sharks have plied every ocean on Earth, formidable and indispensable at the apex of the marine food chain.

    That was before humans came along.

    Now, many shark species are under threat of extinction around the globe, caught unintentionally as by-catch or relentlessly slaughtered for their fins.

    Through it all, sharks remain woefully misunderstood.

    They make headlines for their fitful ferocity toward humans, yet they are crucial to humanity. Sharks support the oceanic food web that supports us, the carbon cycle that stabilizes our climate, even our economies — look no further than TV’s annual “Shark Week” as a testament to our enduring fascination with these awesome creatures.

    For years, Conservation International has studied and worked to protect sharks and the habitats they depend on. If we lose them, the fabric of the oceans could begin to fray.


    Apex predator.
    Guardian of ecosystems.

    Conservation International is protecting them. Will you help us?

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    EditSection Title:You Can Help
    EditSection subtitle:Eat sustainable seafood. Not all fish is created equal. Keep fish in the ocean by eating only seafood that’s been sustainably sourced.
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    EditSection Title:Ocean Health Index
    EditSection subtitle:The OHI is the first world standard to scientifically measure the ocean’s health and assess​ how sustainably people are using the ocean.
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    EditImage Alt Text:Night falls over Rio de Janeiro. © Nikada
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    EditTitle:Science and Innovation
    EditImage Alt Text:Scientists set a camera trap. © Benjamin Drummond
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    EditImage Alt Text:Coral reef in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania. © William Crosse
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