Musings of a Beaverton Teen: Protecting sharks: it’s the right thing to do

By Lani Garcia (11th Grader)

The 30th annual Shark Week on Discovery Channel and National Shark Awareness Day took place last month, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about these misunderstood predators.

Thanks to movies like Jaws and 47 Meters Down, sharks have to deal with the consequences of being portrayed as monsters who want to attack people. In reality, there is no reason to be afraid of these creatures. In 2017, there were only five reports of fatal shark attacks in the entire world.

Humans are the problem.

I find it devastating that sharks have been on this planet for over 400 million years, surviving all five mass extinctions, yet humans are causing a large number of shark species to become endangered and to go extinct. Studies have shown that over 100 million sharks a year are being killed by us. That’s over 11 thousand per hour.

A large amount of these deaths are due to the shark finning industry. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in many Asian countries, and a lot of people associate it with health benefits. However, this isn’t the case! The FDA says to avoid eating shark. They found that shark fins have more than twice the amount of mercury in them than canned white tuna. A different study conducted by Rutgers University found a mako shark with mercury levels at 1.8 parts per million. For comparison, salmon have mercury levels around .05 ppm.

Humans are the solution.

Many airlines and shipping companies have banned the shipment of shark fins, which is a big step forward in helping to protect this important species. Being aware of which companies do this and supporting them can contribute to protecting them. I hope more people continue to appreciate sharks and realize the importance of sharing this Earth with this amazing apex predator.

Lani is will be a senior at Beaverton High School. As a ZooTeen, she volunteers at the Oregon Zoo during the summer. She plays piano & guitar, and enjoyed doing dragon boats this past year.