So why can't we get behind sharks? It's not like the meat is some irresistible delicacy favored by the masses. The flesh is sweet, but the flavor is not on par with the likes of other seafood options such as halibut, snapper, or salmon. Is there some fear imbedded deep into the fabric of our culture, put there thousands of years ago when man first ventured into the water, that sets the tone for our relationship with the graceful killers as a simple equation: it's either us or them? Must we overcome our fear, overcome sharks really, by slaughtering them by the millions every year? It's not an exaggeration ; about 11,000 sharks are killed every hour. I understand there are many other hunted animals out there, such as dolphins and seals, that are PR friendly and easier to support (they definitely make better cuddly toys and logos for tee-shirts), but realistically shark populations are in much more danger.
Sharks are responsible for about 1 human death per year in the U.S. In that same year:
- Bees will kill 54 people
- Lightning will kill 90 people
- Cows will kill 22 people
- Deer will kill 130 people
- Dogs will kill 31 people
- Horses will kill 20 people
- We will kill about 15,500 of each other
Sharks need a break from the dinner table and trophy photo op. Commercial and recreational fishing needs to get better about leaving them alone and releasing them safely when hooked. We all need to realize that maybe instead of fearing sharks, we should try respecting them. They've been around a lot longer than we have. They serve a purpose in this world and I don't think its in the form of a fillet at the local fish market. There are arguably more likable, friendlier species to protect, but I don't think there are any that are more important.