The Fish That Nobody Loves
IS THE shark your favorite fish? Not likely. To most people, the shark is no favorite, though for some it provides their favorite meal, their favorite type of hide, or perhaps their favorite creature to kill for sport. More and more sharks are being killed for such reasons. U.S.News & World Report notes that the annual catch of shark in just the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and off the U.S. East Coast has risen by over 1,000 percent in the last ten years!
If you have heard no outcry calling for protection of the shark, it is not surprising. After all, many see the shark as a menace, an implacable eating machine with little in its brain besides an urge to sink its jaws into humans. But while shark attacks do happen, they are much rarer than the purveyors of scary movies would have you believe.
According to U.S.News & World Report, “fewer than 100 [shark attacks] are reported worldwide each year, and not many are fatal.” Besides, not all sharks are the attacking sort. Species range in length from 4 inches [10 cm] to 60 feet [18 m], and in weight from under 1 ounce [28 gm] to 15 tons [14,000 kg]! About 90 percent of the 300 species (including the very largest) pose no threat to humans.
And sharks are valuable. Like undersea vacuum cleaners, they play a crucial cleanup role in the oceans, gobbling up diseased creatures and refuse. Scientists eagerly study their defense system since sharks seem to be free of cancer or major infections. Still, sharks are not invulnerable. They reproduce slowly (giving birth to as few as two babies, or pups, in a year), so they may not spring back quickly if decimated.
Fortunately, the shark is finding some friends at last. The U.S. National Marine Fisheries has produced a 100-page plan to protect the fish, calling for limits on how many sharks may be taken by humans. Of course, no one has yet proposed a limit on how many humans the sharks may take; but the Creator of both man and shark promises a time when His human children will have nothing to fear on this earth.—Isaiah 11:6-9.
[Picture Credit Line on page 31]
N. Orabona/H. Armstrong Roberts