Dear ReefCalendar Team,
SharkSchool congratulates you and your team for this incredible calendar!
Your innovative and very attractive way to get the attention of the media to present nature’s beauty is second to none.
We share your sentiment in presenting nature in its best possible light, especially our beloved sharks. But unfortunately, all too often we have to highlight their devastation and cruelty towards them.
What can be more satisfying than being among sharks, understanding their body language, comprehending its meaning and figure out their intentions when in closer vicinity to us? Our goal is to bring sharks closer to people of all walks of life through workshops, presentations and seminars and show that these animals are not mean spirited creatures but like all the others out there. Sharks are often baffling, and sometimes even seem to seek human contact. On occasion, we have seen sharks carrying hooks with fishing lines attached, or parasites stuck in their gills which they can’t get rid off them by themselves. In such cases they come so close that we can cut the lines or rip off the parasites and once removed they go back to keep their regular distances. It seems as if they know that we, albeit unfamiliar to them, may offer help.
But carrying hooks is the least of their human caused problems.
Finning is one of the most cruel acts against them where their fins are sliced off while the animal is often still alive. Of the hundred million sharks killed each year, a majority is finned. Overall, 125 nations fish for sharks with the bulk practicing this horrifying form of harvest. How can it be that we still have to raise awareness against this cruelty among the general public? How can it be that fishing for sharks still reflects the largest ecological time bomb? And how can it be that Spain, as part of the European Union, is still the world’s third largest shark fishing nation behind Indonesia and India?
So we have to ask, how can it be that our generation is destroying nature to the extent that all that is left for our children to come is the task of trying to restore and reverse what damage we caused?
All around the planet, scientists, conservationists and activists try to help sharks, using a variety of techniques and approaches. One of the them is “tagging,” the method of equipping sharks with sensors to follow their routes. Granted, a lot can be learned from that, but some of these methods should be banned. Some of these transponders are bulky and heavy, and are often attached with screws, wing nuts and any other form of attachments. Some “after pictures” reveal degenerated or completely crippled dorsal fins, the main area where these gadgets are attached to. But not just physical damage is often very prominent, lowering the ability of shark to perform in an optimal manner. The electronics behind can warn prey ahead of time, making it harder or even impossible for a shark to hunt successfully. First investigations suggest that sea lions, seals and related mammals are able to hear these sounds and associate them with nearby sharks.
But not just that, some scientists are of the opinion that live-apps identify a shark’s location too accurately, enabling sport fishing captains to bring their clients into close range of sharks.
Bottom line: tagging sharks can be a helpful tool but all to often has a devastating effect on the tagged animal.
But not just the killing of sharks and the cruel tasks are on on top of our minds, so is the marine pollution with plastic.
Worldwide, close to 300 million metric tons of plastic are produced each year of which about 6.5 million tons end up in the oceans annually. Half of the plastic floats, half of it sinks to the bottom.
Back in 2014, the ratio between fish and plastic was 5:1, in 2050, the ratio will be 1:1.
Plastic is devastating for our oceans, not just because of pollution. A large amount finds its ways into the food chains, ending up in a large number of fish, birds and mammals. And since humans reflect an essential part of this food chain, a lot of micro plastic finds its way into our system, as well, leading to an array of illnesses and organ failures.
Let’s keep making people aware that we need healthy oceans to survive, but not just us, all the creatures living in them, too.
We wish you all the best!
Erich Ritter und Andy Dellios