Sharks have long inspired our fascination and our fear. However, a growing body of scientific evidence has shown that instead of being afraid of sharks—which have killed fewer humans within a year than such risks as accidents taking scenic selfies and encounters with vending machines—we should be afraid for sharks. The latest numbers from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List show that nearly one third of all known species of sharks and their relatives are considered threatened with extinction. This is one of the highest rates of any vertebrate group. And since sharks play crucial roles in the marine and coastal ecosystems that billions of humans depend on for their livelihoods and food security, the task of conserving these amazing and misunderstood species should concern us all.
More people than ever before are aware of the shark conservation crisis and want to help, which is great news. However, many well-intentioned people often don’t know the true causes of—and solutions to—this crisis, resulting in what’s at best wasted effort, and at worst harming what they’re trying to support. This conservation dilemma has inspired the last decade of my research and public science engagement. It also inspired my new book, Why Sharks Matter: A Deep Dive with the World’s Most Misunderstood Predator, which synthesizes hundreds of research papers and reports to inform readers of the true threats to sharks and how we can begin to solve them. Only by following the evidence and seeking data-driven, sustainable solutions to overfishing can we save these fascinating and important creatures.
Continue reading at scientificamerican.com.