July 27, 2010
What Would Happen If Sharks Disappeared?

Check out this clip from Discovery Networks. Apex predators serve useful functions in ecosystems and should not be overfished. Currently dozens of shark species are being killed at unsustainable rates. Countries should stop doing this.

We need to stop overfishing the oceans.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 July 27 05:20 PM  Trends Extinction


Comments
wcw said at July 28, 2010 9:32 AM:

Yep. But we won't. It's pretty depressing.

Jay said at July 29, 2010 3:39 PM:

Kill 'em all! Let G-d sort 'em out!

ralph berger said at July 29, 2010 4:05 PM:

why do these envirowackos always have to back up their claims with absurd distortions?!does anyone realy believe that 250000 sharks are killed each day?(that's more than 9 billion ayear,a helluva of lot of soup)don't they realize that they could advance their cause a lot more with sticking to the truth.

Larry J said at July 29, 2010 4:31 PM:

does anyone realy believe that 250000 sharks are killed each day?(that's more than 9 billion ayear,a helluva of lot of soup)

250,000 * 365 = 91,250,000 a year), not 9 billion. You're off by 2 orders of magnitude. Ninety-one million is still a very big number. I'd like to see some support for that claim.

John said at July 29, 2010 4:49 PM:

This links says 100 million sharks are killed each year:

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/fish/shark-fishing.htm

This link says that between 23 and 76 million sharks are killed each year for their fins (so doesn't include bycatch). It estimates that the median number of sharks killed each year for their fins is 38 million. The article is worth reading, because it describes how the researchers came to their estimated range of annual numbers of sharks killed for shark fin soup. The source is a 2006 paper in Ecology Letters:

http://news.mongabay.com/2006/1003-sharks.html

Mike said at July 29, 2010 7:18 PM:

The decimation of the shark population is why the Humboldt Squid population has exploded out of its traditional Baja range and can now be found as far north as Alaska, feeding on salmon, crab, shrimp and other traditionally harvested fisheries. It would help if fishermen targeted the Humboldt squid, but it's not yet in significant demand by the market. Personally I like eating it, but its a bit chewy for most people.

Robert Speirs said at July 29, 2010 7:30 PM:

What nonsense. So what if sharks disappear? Another top predator will take over. Is this article claiming that only sharks can sustain an ecosystem? Does this fellow not believe in evolution? What happened to survival of the fittest? No, now it's "let's protect a shark and who cares about the fishes?". All natural systems include Man. Man's actions are as much a part of the ecosystem as anything else. Natural selection includes man's preferences, even the preference for shark fin soup at a wedding.

Render said at July 29, 2010 7:43 PM:

I'm confused. If we're killing all the sharks, doesn't that make us the apex predator? What's the problem, again?

Mike H. said at July 29, 2010 7:50 PM:

Which sharks are we talking about? Great White? Hammerhead? Cookiecutter? Sleeper Sharks? Bramble Sharks? New Zealand Lanternshark? Dogfish? Sawsharks? Whalesharks?

Randall Parker said at July 29, 2010 11:04 PM:

Robert Speirs,

Yes, man's actions are part of the ecosystem. We are incredibly powerful omnivores. We are capable of wiping out lots of other species and have already done so. We are on course to wipe out a lot more other species.

Not all our species wipe-outs are benign in their effects on us.

Render,

As Mike and I have already explained, some of the changes that come as a result of killing sharks are harmful to our own interests.

Randall Parker said at July 29, 2010 11:16 PM:

Mike H.

Off of South Africa blue sharks, shortfin makoes, and dog sharks are caught the most

WWF says an estimated 6.6 million open-ocean sharks are inadvertently caught there each year, mostly blue sharks but also the shortfin mako shark. In addition, fishers catch some 1.2 million coastal sharks, mainly dog sharks, each year.

But in other regions other shark species are killed.

As of 2006 basking, whale, and great white were listed as endangered.

Nathaniel said at August 7, 2010 5:39 PM:

@Robert Speirs
If sharks are eradicated to the point of extinction then nature is going to bite us on the ass. Here's an example of what could happen, if all of the sharks on the planet died out, then fish population(essentially their prey) would reproduce in rapid amounts. No other predator could handle it. Density dependent factors such as sickness and starvation would spread amongst those fish. But the bigger concern would be that plankton(the base of the entire food-chain in the ocean) eventually plankton could possibly share the same fate as the sharks and thus become extinct. Then what do their predators use as food? The answer is nothing, they'll die out and their predators would die out and so on. All leading up to people, particularly those who live in poor countries and depend on fish as a main food source would starve to death.

Thank you for your time

Kate said at August 24, 2010 9:47 AM:

Robert Speirs said at July 29, 2010 7:30 PM:
What nonsense. So what if sharks disappear? Another top predator will take over. Is this article claiming that only sharks can sustain an ecosystem? Does this fellow not believe in evolution? What happened to survival of the fittest? No, now it's "let's protect a shark and who cares about the fishes?". All natural systems include Man. Man's actions are as much a part of the ecosystem as anything else. Natural selection includes man's preferences, even the preference for shark fin soup at a wedding.


EVOLUTION is a natural selection - there is nothing natural about the way the human race rapes the earth and her oceans

Danielle said at September 27, 2010 5:08 PM:

How is this nonsense? The more animals we kill off, the more we are killing ourselves, after sharks... whales.. dolphins.. seals.. what has the marine wildlife done do deserve any of this? Nothing, they are a part of our ecosystem and they are not here for us to wipe off the charts. Stop being heartless, if its all about being selfish these days, then why are you trying to kill yourself? Cause in the lond run, that is what WILL happen.

Oscar said at January 2, 2011 2:25 PM:

What nonsense. So what if sharks disappear? Another top predator will take over.
What top predator? IF you dont count 10 % of squids, sharks are the ONLY large predator in the ocean!

AndrewD001 said at January 8, 2011 12:41 PM:

I think that another top predator will take over. I just don't think that I will be able to wait around long enough for it to evolve...

Unicorns said at April 6, 2011 3:11 PM:

Even though some sharks may seen like killers to us because of previous attacks doesn't mean we have to hate them. They only bite us because of mistakened identity. For example surfers wear swim suits and they are brightly colored, under water fishes comes in different colors too so when the shark looks up from the waters he/she might think it's a fish. Also sharks hate human flesh they only like fish.

Matt said at June 6, 2011 5:20 PM:

Serial Killers are the real Apex Predator.

Anonymous said at May 4, 2012 7:35 AM:

Phyto Plankton, actually produce 50% of the worlds oxygen. Thus, when taking out the top predetor, a chain reaction of either over population or extinction caries out down the food chain, causing phyto plankton's top predetor, Zooplankton, to either over populate or go extinct. I think you can guess what would happen next. Phyto plankton would either overpopulate, and then die due to lack of food, or be eaten to extinction by Zoo plankton. This is just one example out of many.

Jen said at June 16, 2012 8:18 PM:

To the people who think this is nonsense, suggest killing sharks, and think the rest of us are "enviro- wackos":
This actually is legitimate and there are multiple sources out there to back it up if anyone feels like actually researching the content they decide to give their uneducated input on. Sharks are the apex predator of the ocean which covers over 75% of the earth. Obviously driving them to extinction would have massive consequences on the rest of the planet. Sharks have been keeping the ocean in balance for how many thousands of years? Humans have driven so many species of sharks to near extinction just since the 1970's. So, yes, while evolution would eventually allow another species to take over, evolution does not occur over just a few decades while we decimate entire species and wait for mother nature to fix our mistakes. While you will find different numbers and statistics as to the exact amount of sharks killed per year (due not in small part to finning in international waters and over in the Asian markets), it is safe to conclude that the number is far too large and unsustainable.

NIN said at August 6, 2012 1:36 AM:

ACCORDING TO YOUR CHRISTIAN BIBLE GOD MADE ANIMALS AND THE FISHES IN THE SEAS A DAY BEFORE HE MADE ADAM. SOOOO THEY WERE HERE FIRST AND WE SHARE THIS WORLD WITH THEM AND IF YOU THINK YOU WILL NOT GET YOURS FOR HURTING OR KILLING AN ANIMAL NEEDLESSLY YOU BETTER THINK AGAIN....NIN

Just ME said at July 1, 2013 1:29 AM:

No sharks shouldn't be killed they are beautiful creatures just because you are scared of them doesn't mean we should killed all off them how would you like it if we killed your family????????.......EXACTLY

Kevin said at August 7, 2013 8:40 PM:

Any one person that think that our over use of natures creations is a good thing better get their head checked.
There is an order in this world that has been sustained longer than man has even been able to fathom what they are
We take from nature and twist the world we live in to survive instead of embaracing and living in it. Honestly does anyone here believe that we should destroy a species in the mane of soup?
Sound the the ocean version of the buffalo or dodo bird. We no longer have these animals. And evolution did not eliminate them from the
World greed and ignorance did.

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