Many people are terrified of sharks. In actuality, only a few of the world's many shark species pose any kind of threat to humans. Shark attacks on humans are rare, averaging fewer than 100 a year worldwide. However, sharks have a lot to fear from humans. New studies are confirming what scientists had long feared--human fishing threatens to push these ancient sea creatures toward extinction.
According to a recent study, global shark populations have decreased 71 percent since 1970. The study also found that many shark species are now threatened with extinction. The main reason for the loss in population is human fishing. As you can see on the chart here, the rate of shark catches has increased dramatically since the 1950s. Sharks are sometimes caught for their meat, for use in traditional medicines, and to support the market for shark fin soup, a single bowl of which can sell for the equivalent of $100. This practice has been widely criticized by environmental and animal activists because it involves catching the sharks, removing their fins, and throwing them back into the water, where they die.
But an even bigger threat to sharks is accidental catches, also known as "bycatch." Bycatch occurs when fishermen accidentally catch sharks while fishing for other species like tuna or swordfish. Some fishermen use longline fishing gear to hook their prey. This method uses fishing lines that run for miles and have thousands of hooks. Longline fishing often results in the accidental catches of sharks, sea turtles, and other marine mammals. The number of fishing boats in the ocean has greatly increased since the 1950s, leading to more shark bycatch. Recent studies have shown that humans kill nearly 100 million sharks each year, a number that experts say could lead to extinction.
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Study finds shark populations have decreased 71% since 1970 1. Many sharks are victims of "..?..," meaning they are caught accidentally. [ ] overgrab [ ] poaching [ ] bycatch [ ] friendly fire 2. Humans kill approximately ..?.. sharks every year. [ ] 1 million [ ] 10 million [ ] 50 million [ ] 100 million 3. Sharks are known as "..?.." in their ecosystems. [ ] apex predators [ ] bottom-feeders [ ] invasive species [ ] indicator species 4. Shark skeletons are not made of bones, but of ..?... [ ] cartilage [ ] keratin [ ] ivory [ ] skin 5. The movie "..?.." featured a great white shark terrorizing a beach community. [ ] Deep Cover [ ] Teeth [ ] Orca [ ] Jaws