Probably the most notorious fish, right after Nemo, the shark is a complex and fascinating creature that is equally feared and awe-inspiring at the same time. It has been roaming our oceans for over 400 million years now. And did you know that some shark species are really adaptable? They can live in salt water as well as fresh water .
To conserve these interesting animals it's important to learn about their world, know their features and recognize their importance in the marine ecosystem. First of all, it's necessary to understand that according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , one-quarter of all sharks are threatened with extinction. Most of these threads are man-made such as:
- overfishing of their prey
- trophy hunting
- unintentional bycatch
- fishing for their meat and fins
What many don't know, is that the finning industry is especially cruel. Once a shark is caught, the fins are cut off while it is still alive and then it will be thrown back into the ocean. As it is unable to swim, it will slowly sink to the ground where it is eaten alive by other fish.
As a volunteer in shark conservation, there are many different destinations you can visit worldwide such as South Africa and Costa Rica. These destinations will not only let you experience sharks within close proximity but are also amongst the most biodiverse countries in the world. When it comes to your volunteer tasks you need to keep in mind that conservation work is not a walk in the park! Among your conservation work can be tasks like:
- Shark Cage Diving - you will be properly instructed on how to enter and exit the cages, as well as how to behave. Even though sharks are rather shy animals, it is vital to not provoke the animals and cause danger to yourself and others.
- Photography and Video - you will learn how to take pictures and videos above and below water to collect valuable data about shark populations.
- Quality of the Oceans - you will observe and clean coral reefs and the beaches in order to maintain the ocean's health, which is vital for all living organisms.