Role in the ecosystem
Sharks function as the white blood cells of the ocean ecosystem. They pick off the dead, dying, and weak leaving only the healthiest to reproduce. Without sharks our ocean ecosystem would collapse; the health and productivity of the fish that humans and other mammals eat would degrade to the point that our human health and the amount of seafood available for consumption could also be jeopardized.
At this point, many sharks are now on the brink of extinction. Scientists estimate that over the past 50 years, 90% of the world’s shark population has disappeared. We hope that providing a platform for people to experience these animals first hand as well as capturing images of sharks and humans interacting peacefully and intimately will help to change the way people think about sharks. To see sharks as they really are: amazing, beautiful, and important animals that need to be protected. The media hype surrounding these animals depicts them as evil demonic man-eating monsters. The truth is sharks do not see people as food and try avoiding contact with humans if possible. Humans are killing 100 million sharks each year and sharks accidentally kill 4-7 people worldwide.
Importance in the environment
There is a growing recognition in the scientific community that sharks are vital to the health of marine ecosystems. In places around the world where sharks have been removed, there is often a correlation with fisheries collapse and degradation of surrounding reef ecosystems. Removal of apex predators can have profound impacts on the entire ecosystem, with cascading impacts across multiple trophic levels. Without sharks present to regulate populations and modify behavior for prey items entire ecosystems can fall out of balance which can impact global food security and ecosystem services we all depend on no matter where we live on this planet.
GLOBAL SHARK POPULATIONS
PLIGHT OF SHARKS
The traditional respect for sharks (manō) and historic role of sharks in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture as ʻaumakua (guardian spirit or family protector) is one of the main reasons there are still relatively healthy populations left in these areas. Native Hawaiians were much more in tune with the ocean and its inhabitants understanding the true nature of sharks and the role they play in the environment, caring and even feeding sharks and getting to know them on an individual basis. We encourage others to open their minds to this perspective to incorporate this level of respect for these animals when interacting with them.