5 Facts about sharks

Raise awareness for why people need sharks

For 400 million years, sharks have roamed every ocean on Earth. Few species have thrived on our planet for as long — and fewer have been so misunderstood. The truth is that these mysterious, magnificent hunters are essential to the balance of marine ecosystems, help boost local economies and are actually worth more alive than dead. Sink your teeth into these interesting facts about sharks, share with your friends and learn why #PeopleNeedSharks.

Hammerhead sharks go hunting.
© CI/Sterling Zumbrunn

Sharks have survived 5 mass extinctions – including the one that killed the dinosaurs.

Today there are more than 465 known species of sharks living in our oceans. Sadly though, nearly one in four of these species are currently threatened with extinction due to human activities like overfishing and shark finning.

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A shark prowls waters off the coast of Fiji.
© Rodolphe Holler

Shark tourism generates more than $300 million USD annually.

Sharks boost local economies through ecotourism. Over the last several decades, public fascination with sharks has developed into a thriving ecotourism industry in places such as the Bahamas, South Africa and the Galápagos Islands. These activities — which support businesses like boat rental and diving companies — are said to provide 10,000 jobs in 29 countries.

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A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swims over a coral reef.
© Ian Scott

Humans kill up to 100 million sharks per year.

If anything, sharks should be afraid of humans — many species of sharks are threatened by human activities. Sharks worldwide are targets of vast overfishing to supply the enormous demand for sharkfin soup, a delicacy served at high-level social and diplomatic functions in Asia. But there is a flip side to this dire situation. Sharks are also valuable to humans for non-consumptive reasons – like ecotourism, smart design, and management of the ocean’s carbon cycle – and this gives hope for shark conservation efforts around the world.

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A sawfish roams the sea.
© Forrest Samuels

Shark anatomy has inspired smart design such as watercraft, cars and water turbines.

People have been practicing biomimicry — imitating nature’s designs to solve human problems — for many years. However, recent advances in technology have made it possible to go even further in pursuit of efficient design. In fact, some researchers are now trying to make artificial shark skin that would reduce friction drag and prevent the accumulation of algae and barnacles in the water — and even prevent bacterial growth when applied to hospital surfaces.

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A whale shark prowls Cendrawasih Bay in Indonesia.
© CI/Mark V. Erdmann

The world’s biggest shark, the whale shark, can grow as long as 40 feet.

As filter-feeders, whale sharks swim with their mouths open to passively filter-feed on small fish, invertebrates, and plankton. While whale sharks aren’t as popularized in media as the jagged-toothed great whites, they do have a considerable impact on coastal economies around the world. As very docile fish, whale sharks attract large amounts of dive tourism – amounting to nearly $50 million USD annually.

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