Sharks have been fascinating sea creatures for as long as we can remember. Are they as life-threatening as it’s depicted in Jaws? But unfortunately, sharks are not threatening our lives; they are endangered themselves. A new report reveals many of the world’s most unique sharks and rays are close to extinction. This includes the largetooth sawfish, whale sharks, electric rays, and more. These sea creatures have swum the oceans for over 250 million years.
But now, they’ll soon disappear into extinction— forever.
More At Risk
According to the new report, sharks, rays, and chimeras are among many animals on the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. Many of these sharks and rays are at the top of their food chain, making them crucial to the health of the Earth’s ecosystem. If they were to go extinct, it would harm the entire aquatic environment.
EDGE Sharks coordinator Fran Cabada said, “Sharks, rays, and chimeras have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, but due to human activities, their modern relatives are facing threats all over the world.”
But now that conservationists know these animals are on the endangered species list, they can implement efforts to protect these sea creatures from complete extinction. Who would want to say goodbye to these beautiful sea animals?
The Largetooth Sawfish
The most critically endangered shark is the popular largetooth sawfish. Usually found in tropical waters, the shark is famous for its unique shape. Unfortunately, the sawfish population has declined rapidly in recent years, largely due to unsustainable fishing.
Everyone can agree the shark is unique, but it’s now the highest-ranked EDGE species in the world. That’s not something to celebrate.
The Basking Shark
Not that many people know about this unique shark, but the basking shark is a generally harmless shark. As a slow-moving sea creature, it feeds in shallow waters.
Much like the largetooth sawfish, the basking shark population is decreasing because of the fishing industry. The shark’s fins are found in soup and its cartilage is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Whale Shark
The largest living fish species, the whale shark can live up to 100 years old. But now, they’re at high risk of endangerment. Because of their impressive size, growing up to 40 feet, the sharks are targeted by fishermen.
Conservationists have worked hard to protect these sea creatures. Their hunting is now banned in the Philippines, India, and Taiwan.
While sharks are endangered species, we can’t neglect rays, who dominate the EDGE species list. This includes stingrays, eagle rays, and guitarfishes. At the moment, conservation action for rays is lagging far behind protection for endangered sharks.
Overfishing is the main threat to the species. Rays have been decreasing in the ocean system for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, if they, along with sharks, were to become extinct, it would harm the Earth’s ecosystem in more ways than what many realize.
“The modern extinction of a single species from this list would cause the loss of millions of years of evolutionary history,” said Matthew Gollock of the Zoological Society of London.