It is impossible to accurately calculate the full global implications of losing sharks altogether, but it will involve our levels of oxygen and food supply. The extinction of sharks will change the ocean beyond recognition, as equilibriums are tipped beyond repair.
Sharks are being seriously over-fished at an estimated rate of up to 73 million sharks per year. In some areas their numbers are calculated as being down by a staggering 95%. The species that live on the sea bed are killed by trawlers, which are causing such destruction that the cuts in the ocean floor can clearly be seen by satellites. Open-ocean sharks are often unintentional victims of longlines.
Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing as they reproduce far more slowly than most sea creatures. They only reach sexual maturity after 10 years and produce a relatively small number of offspring. They struggle to recover from the relentless hunting that has become the norm.
Contamination of environment The ocean has become a dumping ground for chemicals and pollution. Toxic chemicals are deposited in gallons either as a result of run-off, accidental spills or outright dumping. These enter the food chain and become increasingly concentrated as they make their way up to the top predator. It should be noted that shark products could actually be poisoning us, as shark flesh contains levels of methyl-mercury so high that a single steak can cause mercury poisoning. This has been linked to infertility, nervous system issues, and birth defects. The mercury also affects the sharks themselves and impairs their ability to reproduce successfully. Additionally scientists have found other neuro-toxins that could be linked to brain diseases in their flesh.
The ocean is also full of plastic, which is gradually decomposing, releasing polymer particles, that are inevitably consumed by ocean animals. These have been found to have a devastating impact on living creatures, causing change in the biological structures and even mutating their DNA.
Sharks rely upon estuaries as safe havens for their young. Unfortunately estuaries around the world are being destroyed not only by pollution and overfishing. They are also being used for urban development, and sold as real estate.
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