Before you start reading this article please watch the video above. Did you watch it? Good.
When you hear this infamous song you know you're either watching "Jaws" or Shark Week is finally here.
Since 1987, the best part of summer has been Shark Week. The series came to be after the 1975 hit, “Jaws.” The content was initially devoted to conservation efforts, correcting misconceptions about sharks and the breaking down the barrier of fear “Jaws” had instilled in people.
But today, the question has been raised: Is Shark Week doing more harm than good?
According to The Week, quite a few scientists have spoken out about their concern over Shark Week ironically becoming detrimental to the field of science.
Assistant professor at Florida Nova Southeastern University, David Kerstetter said, "Rather than having Shark Week engage the audience with stories of the very real research going on with [sharks], those of us in the field now spend our public outreach efforts debunking silly things like 'mermaids' and the continuing existence of Megalodon."
David Shiffman from Wired magazine said, "At its best, Shark Week educates people about the most misunderstood animals on our planet while inspiring them to protect the ocean. At its worst, it perpetuates fear and misunderstanding."
Regardless of your opinion on whether Shark Week is an excellent view into an unknown world or a gross misrepresentation of these massive creatures, the world’s shark population is dwindling.
According to a study published in Marine Policy, 100 million sharks are killed each year by humans, but that’s a conservative estimate. The true number could be as high as 273 million sharks killed annually by humans.The causes range from killing for sport, fishing or tragically hunting them for their fins.
If that doesn't put things into perspective for you, take a look at this photo.
The Shark Conservation Society says while sharks kill an average of 12 people a year, humans kill almost 11,417 sharks per hour … PER HOUR.
While many people may think a shark’s contribution to the world is nonexistent, sharks are critical to marine ecosystems. If there were no more sharks, the ocean’s food chain would collapse. This species keeps food webs in balance, prey populations healthy and also helps seagrass beds grow strong while maintaining a proper proportion in the oceans.
Although Shark Week brings awareness to this issue, there are steps you can take no matter where you live to help save the sharks.
Do not eat them. Shark fin soup is not the only dish you can consume. There are other names for shark, such as white fish and rock salmon, so make sure you are not purchasing any of these products.
Stop supporting businesses. Do not support any restaurant or store that sells shark products and inform them of your concerns. Make it a point to tell business owners exactly why you are boycotting their restaurants/store.
Get educated. Learn more about sharks and teach others how important they are to the ecosystem.
Watch what you buy. Keep sharks out of your cosmetics. Some makeup, lotions and deodorants contain squalene, which is shark liver oil.
Sharks have survived for 450 million years, but may be gone within the next decades.
The ocean is their home, not ours, and we should do everything in our power to make sure it stays that way.