Lately, sharks are hitting news headlines and that kept many people wondering if sharks are that important. If you are wondering the same, then, let me say first of all that everything is important. It only takes deeper research to figure out the importance.
So, Are Sharks Important? Yes! Sharks are important. These sea creatures perform several roles for you that you don’t about. Sharks help the economy, stands to be a future to scientific research, their lifestyle aids medical breakthrough, and sharks help in smart designs. As you can see the “mere” sharks are helpful in all spheres of life.
Here, you will get to know the importance of sharks to you! Thus, this page contains those things that sharks do for you that you may not yet be aware of.
Amazing Things Sharks Do for You
Since you already know that sharks are important, I am going to outline 10 ways that sharks are important to you. This list is based on recent scientific discoveries through the study of sharks. Thus, sharks do the following for you:
1. Sharks Keep Balance to the Food Web
Sharks stay on top of the food chain as apex predators. This means that these creatures help to bring balance to the food web by checking the supply of food to the web. Through their feeding process, these creatures help to control the population of their prey.
By helping take care of weak fast reproducing sea animals, sharks keep the overall sea population healthy.
You may think this only affects the sea. But, let me tell you how it benefits you too! Just imagine that sharks suddenly disappear, what do you think will happen?
Of course, the increase in the population of sea creatures will make the seashore inaccessible to people. You will experience difficulty in things regarding the sea. There would be a generally negative impact.
There is already a study in Australia on the impact of the rapid decline in the population of sharks. This study found that the population of mid-level predators increased immensely while the population of herbivorous sea creatures deteriorated.
Also, with the reduction in the population of algae-feeding fish, algae took over the reef system. Hence, it limited its chances of recovering from bleaching and other kinds of disturbances.
You now see from the food web aspect why sharks are very important and can’t be overemphasized.
2. The Carbon Cycle is in Motion with the Help of Sharks
Some deep-sea dwelling sharks scavenge and feed on dead matters usually dropping to the seafloor. By so doing, these sharks help to move carbon around the sea.
Certainly, carbon is very important as an element of life. It also contributes to climate, hence the need to keep the cycle in motion.
Scientific research also affirmed that sharks and other large sea creatures help to trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They retain carbon in their bodies for a long time. This process is known as carbon sequestration.
Through this process, sharks help to remove atmospheric carbon (iv) oxide, hence, reversing the effects of global warming.
As these sharks die, they drop to the bottom of the ocean where scavengers feed on them. Humans hunting sharks usually disrupts the cycle of carbon in the ocean. This can lead to negative effects.
3. Sharks Help to Foster Medical Research
Sharks unlike other living species do not get sick so often. This characteristic of sharks has surprised scientists for years leading to the relentless study of these creatures in the hope of making a groundbreaking medical discovery.
The progress so far is the creation of “Sharklet AF”. This is an antibacterial surface coating introduced as a result of the study of sharks’ skin. It can keep off certain bacteria that can infect people and also helps to stop the growth and multiplication of bugs in hospitals.
The skin of sharks has special antimicrobial properties which scientists emulated in the creation of the antibacterial surface coating.
Researchers expect to make a global medical impact in the future through the study and emulation of these sea creatures.
4. Sharks Help to Improve the Economy of Locals
The development and growth of the ecotourism industry have contributed immensely to the economy of places where sharks occur often. Peoples’ interest in sharks increased immensely over the past decades.
Places such as the United States, Australia, Bahamas, the Galapagos Islands, and South Africa has an economic boost from ecotourism. Sharks occur in these places and serve as a point of attraction to ecotourists.
In Florida, shark diving, fishing, ecotourism, and recreational activities add $34.7 billion in GDP according to a 2019 report. As Florida ranks number 2 in the nation as newly certified divers, only shark diving and snorkeling contribute $11 billion in GDP.
Other places such as the Bahamas have shark diving contributing $113.8 million each year to their economy.
This economic impact of shark diving extends to Australia that gains $25.5 million. Fiji that generates $42.2 million. Palau generates $18 million. The Maldives generates $8.1 million. And, French Polynesia generates $5.4 million.
In these places and many other places, shark-related activities generate thousands of jobs for individuals. Studies also suggest that sharks are worth much more when alive than when dead. Dead sharks only generate one-off income while living sharks generate continuous income.
All these represent the impact of sharks on the local economy.
5. Through Biomimicry, Study of Sharks Leads to Smart Designs
Some shark species such as the great white shark navigate the ocean with a great speed of up to 25 miles per hour and can travel very long distances. Scientists have studied this shark to discover that their tiny dermal denticles help them to reduce drag while swimming.
This discovery led to the creation of swimsuits that helps reduce to reduce drag for divers while they swim. It makes swimmers also appear sleeker.
BioPower Systems a company in Australia designed a wave energy capturing device with the shape of a shark’s tail. This device traps wave energy and convert it into electric power.
These discoveries are inspired by observing sharks. Thus, the biomimicry of sharks continues to help in the design of devices that can help to improve and make living easier for humans.
Note that biomimicry does not only apply to sharks, instead it applies to nature at large. It means imitating the design already existing in nature to solve certain defined problems for humans.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The existence of sharks is very important to healthy oceans and humans. As we can see, these sharks are more important than we can imagine. They help in various aspects of human discovery and scientific breakthroughs.
Unfortunately, humans are the greatest threat of sharks. Each year, humans kill over 100 million sharks subjecting them to shark fining for making shark fin soup. Other raw materials such as liver oil are used in making creams, lotions, and other oil-based products.
When we do this, we neglect the importance of sharks in the ecosystem. More so, we disregard the negative impact of the non-existence of sharks in the ocean.
The good news is that several movements are out already to protect sharks from the impact of fishing. Certainly, we need to pause for a while and acknowledge that sharks are very important to us. Hence, the need to protect and avoid overfishing of these creatures.