Jean-Michel Cousteau: Sharks Need Our Help

Hollywood has been very successful at making them scary, but in reality, sharks have a lot more reasons to be afraid of us than we have to be afraid of them. Between 100 and 200 million sharks are killed each year, mostly for their dorsal fins (to make soup, popular in parts of Asia, particularly Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and now China) and their jaws (sold to ignorant or unscrupulous collectors). Sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems and the fact that many of the 350 species of sharks are facing extinction is not to be taken lightly. WildAid estimates that that shark sales around the world went from 3011 tons in 1980 to 11,732 tons in 2000, but in reality it's probably a lot more than that since statistics are not always available. Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of the world-famous explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, is trying to raise awareness about the problem."Out of the 350 species of sharks, humans have to be careful with about 5," says Cousteau, "and there are only about 10 fatal shark attacks on humans each year around the globe. There are thousands who die of snake or wasp bites. More people die from falling coconuts."

Most of the species of sharks reproduce quite slowly. The female of the great white shark only reaches sexual maturity at 12 years of age and has few offsprings.

Cousteau thinks that one of the ways to help shark survive is to demystify them and educate people on these misunderstood animals, to try to remove the shark caricature from people's mind and replace it with the real animals. He and Jean-Jacques Mantello will produce a film titled "Requin 3D" (Shark 3D), and he has founded in 1999 Ocean Futures Society:

The mission of Ocean Futures Society is to explore our global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean's vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet.

::Requins: stopper l'hécatombe (French), ::Sharks Vanishing Amid Human Myths And Brutality, ::Ocean Futures Society, ::Sharks at Wikipedia.

See also: ::Blue Whale Nursery in Patagonia's Golfo Corcovado, ::Who is Killing Nature's Precious Bees?

Tags: Animals | Cousteau