Operation: Oceanfixer

Why Shark Finning Needs To End

Imagine being thrown into the ocean without any ability to defend yourself or receive oxygen, that is what sharks experience after finning. Shark finning is defined as the practice of removing the fins off of a shark and discarding the shark, typically by throwing the living shark back into the ocean. People do this to sharks in order to sell their fins, typically as food or trophies. Collectors typically pay $10,000-$20,000 per fin.

Well of course, shark finning isn’t that bad, right? Sharks are mean creatures who enjoy killing innocent humans only trying to enjoy a day at the beach! Well really, sharks aren’t that bad! The highest known record for worldwide shark attacks is ninety-eight, taking place in 2015. Worldwide, the average amount of shark related deaths is eight and in 2016, there were only four worldwide shark related deaths. Especially endangered by shark finning is the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini), and there is no document of a hammerhead ever killing a human.

The finned shark is typically thrown back into the ocean, leaving them completely defenseless. Once dumped in the ocean, the shark will most likely die of suffocation from their lack of ability to filter water through their gills. Or, another common possibility is being eaten by a predator who finds them defenseless. An estimated seventy three million sharks are finned each year and that number is possibly up to one hundred million. Sharks mature slower and breed later in life, around thirty years old, as well as breed less babies or ‘pups’ as baby sharks are called. This is called K-Selection and causes an inability in sharks to keep up with their mortality rate from shark finning. Over the last fifty years, some shark species have experienced drops in as much as eighty percent of their population.

This doesn’t only affects sharks either, overfishing of sharks negatively affects coral reefs too. Imagine a coral reef once healthy and full of coral, ending up overrun by algae. Coral reefs are kept clean by parrotfish and carnivorous fish feed on these parrotfish. Sharks, being apex predators on the top of the food chain, often eat these carnivorous fish. Without sharks these fish thrive and with a larger population of these fish, they eat more parrotfish. Coral reefs can fill up with algae due to the decreasing population of parrotfish.

So, shark finning is a problem, but how can we help?

Obviously, if you are participate in shark finning, you should stop continuing this practice. Otherwise, the best place to start is just with staying aware. Do not consume, purchase or sell shark fins and don’t support places or people who do. Additionally, consider signing petitions you find on shark finning, donating to campaigns to end shark finning, spreading the word about shark finning (especially online) and asking places which serve shark fins to stop.

Written with the hope of ending this practice, Daring Orca.

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A note from our co-founder, Dorky Shark:

Daring Orca is one of our new writers! I’m really looking forward to having her on long term. There’s a small behind-the-scenes figuring-out going on, and we’ll know for sure if she’s officially joining our team soon. It’s part of a larger figuring-out - you may have noticed we’re being kind of quiet right now, other than publishing a few articles. One thing that would really help cement Daring Orca’s status here is if you all followed a simple rule…if you like this post, like this post! There’s a like button down at the bottom. As usual, feel free to comment and share!

Sea Otters, The Fluff-balls Of The Sea

Sea Otter Mama & Pup.jpg

Sea Otters

Enhydra lutris

12/14/2017

By Bill Hawks

Operation: Oceanfixer

www.operationoceanfixer.org

Why Are Sea Otters Important

Sea otters are loveable flurfy snuggle-butts, and what is called a keystone species, keystone species are animals that are crucial to the ecosystem; like a keystone in an arch/bridge, a good example of this, (besides sea otters) are sea stars, which  keep the levels of seaweed healthy, therefore, sustaining all that rely on the seaweed for food. Sea otters live in kelp, sea urchins eat kelp, sea otters eat sea urchins, dozens of species depend on the kelp for shelter, therefore, without sea otters, sea urchins destroy kelp forests.

 

Main Threats

  1. Hunting to near extinction by humans *what a surprise!* and not being able to rebound properly. Luckily that ended in the early 1900s

  2. Human adjacent issues (ex. Oil spills, pollution, fishing/bycatch)

More on Keystone Species and how They Impact the Ecosystem

     Not all keystone species are aquatic. Some animals are keystone prey, hosts, nutrient vectors (also called Keystone links),or even keystone mutualists! Okay, wait, what the heck are those!? I know, just let me explain.

     Keystone prey are animals that, despite being heavily preyed upon, maintain a large population, such as wildebeest, whom are preyed on by lions, crocodiles, and several other predators.

     Keystone hosts are mostly plants, they provide shelter and sometimes even prey to keystone species; a great example would be kelp forests and sea otters, as sea otters live in kelp forests, however they would not if it weren’t for sea urchins, one of the few that prey on kelp, and prey to sea otters.

     Next, are keystone links (nutrient vectors), grizzly bears eat salmon, grizzlys can go further inland/away from water before eating that salmon; salmon carcasses are left to decompose, this fertilizes the soil around it!

     Keystone mutualists are two or more species that work together to benefit the ecosystem, a perfect example of this would be in Patagonia, where the green-backed firecrown pollinates 20% of their local plant population, while the green-backed firecrown pollinates the plants; the plants feed it, a hummingbird’s diet is almost entirely nectar; this exchange is a win-win experience for both of them!

 

Sources:

https://defenders.org/sea-otter/threats

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/keystone-species/

https://seaotters.com/

http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/education/marine-mammal-information/sea-otter.html?gclid=CjwKCAiA6qPRBRAkEiwAGw4SdlY3M4xIYD1Dl4nnV85F0M9mIXfbosBhLAdZOjqaCP-HFi4IjHvO9hoC4ooQAvD_BwE?referrer=https://www.google.com/

 

And Now……This.

Because you deserve this in your life, here are some live sea (and river) otter web cams, that will ensure you have a good day!

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals-and-experiences/live-web-cams/sea-otter-cam?gclid=CjwKCAiA6qPRBRAkEiwAGw4Sdma2rFjFnDe0YxtajbN6rFFWK-EQFmhWPx9QqCXd364h8R99jvoTnxoCYOYQAvD_BwE

http://www.tennesseeaquarium.org/animals-exhibits/river-otter-falls-cam/?gclid=CjwKCAiA6qPRBRAkEiwAGw4SdjRgmRm5O-gGn_ZGzwN3I2CGDkY_rBKTBwg7dO9Tkmtgfxm9Oi71fhoCQKAQAvD_BwE

https://www.vanaqua.org/learn/see-and-learn/live-cams/sea-otter-cam

http://www.seattleaquarium.org/otter-cams

http://www.vanaqua.org/learn/see-and-learn/live-cams/underwater-otter

http://www.vanaqua.org/learn/see-and-learn/live-cams/baby-otter