It is one of the most radical rebrandings in history: contrary to their bloodthirsty image, some sharks are not irrepressible meat eaters, but are happy to munch on vegetation too.
Most animals in marine food webs have two main roles: the eater and the eaten. Not so for the large sharks that Trump reportedly reviles. These powerful creatures eat other animals, but hardly anything eats them. Known as apex predators, sharks sit atop the food web, shaping the structure and interactions of marine communities by both feasting smaller animals and frightening them into behaving a certain way. Kill off apex predators, and their erstwhile prey explodes in number—and, consequently, the smaller animals and plants that the prey eats disappear.
While scientists have long been aware of the decline of marine ecological communities, little work has been done on how fishing or shark finning can affect ecosystem level processes, including climate change. Our new study shows how large-scale ecosystem effects can occur as a result of predator removal, including increased production of biological carbon dioxide in the ocean.
Island nations that will call for the protection of sharks at a global conservation conference starting in South Africa this week need the support of bigger countries to reverse the decline of the fish, whose fins are coveted in Asia, according to activists.
Western Australia will halt a shark cull introduced after seven fatalities in three years as the state’s environmental agency said there was a lack of proof the program reduced attacks.
The state will stop catching and killing sharks using baited hooks on drum lines, Premier Colin Barnett said in a radio interview today. Authorities will retain the option of destroying “rogue” sharks threatening beachgoers, he said.