LAWS: Clever Shark Conservation Poster Turns the Tables on Iconic Spielberg Film

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©. Featherwax & Matteo Musci

Designers Featherwax & Matteo Musci have created an excellent poster to raise awareness about shark conservation. Since I couldn't put a very tall image above, here's a larger version of the poster, where you can see the details and the text better:

LAWS shark conservation poster

© Featherwax & Matteo Musci

Here's how the designers describe their work:

An in-house concept to promote awareness for shark-culling, and the number of sharks killed annually. Due to the large amount of demonisation towards sharks, it’s often an overlooked issue. The concept here is to compare the number of deaths each species cause each other, and visually turn the feared image of a shark on its head. The JAWS poster natural springs to mind, and can be viewed as a boat full of harpoon-guns approaching a shark.

I think that Peter Benchley, the author of the book Jaws, on which the popular Steven Spielberg film was based, would be quite happy with this poster. He was a great advocate for the protection of sharks, and he wasn't happy with how his work turned so many people against these beautiful creatures (which can be dangerous, like many wild animals, but aren't the monsters portrayed in fiction).

Let's fight the rampant misinformation about sharks with some interesting facts:

Sharks by the Numbers

Sharks appeared on the fossil scene about 455 to 425 million years ago (source).

There are about 440 species of sharks. (source)

They vary enormously in size from one species to the next. The dwarf lanternshark is around 6 inches long while the whale shark can reach 40 feet in length and weight almost 80,000lbs.

Sharks are found in all corners of the world's oceans up to depths of 6,600 feet (2 kilometers).

Shark lose their teeth, which are replaced by new ones. A single shark can lose over 30,000 teeth over its lifetime. (source)

Sharks have an exceptional sense of smell. Some species are able to detect blood in water in quantities as small as 1 part per million, and from distances as far as a quarter mile. (source)

It is estimated that up to 100 million sharks are killed by people every year, due to commercial and recreational fishing. Meanwhile, the "average number of fatalities worldwide per year between 2001 and 2006 from unprovoked shark attacks is 4.3".

Shark fins

© AFP/Getty Images

The Horrors of Shark Finning

Sharks might be top predators in the oceans, but unfortunately for them, they aren't at the top of the pyramid on the planet. The impact of humans on sharks is the first thing to understand when looking at why shark populations are under pressure and declining over time. And because they are top predators, they've evolved to mature and reproduce slowly, so unlike other species, they can't be expected to bounce back quickly even if we could leave them alone for a while.

Shark finning is the practice if catching sharks, cutting their fins and throwing them back in the water to die slowly. Finning is responsible for the death of between 73 million to 100 million sharks every year.

Shark fins

© AFP/Getty Images

Why are sharks being finned? Because shark fin soup is popular in certain asian countries, and the market value of the fins ($300/lbs in 2009) is much higher than the market value of the rest of the sharks, so it's more economical to simply bring back the fins to ground.

According to Shark Savers, "Life within the oceans, covering 2/3rds of our planet, has enjoyed a relationship with sharks for about 450 million years. Our growing demand for shark fin soup has increased the slaughter of sharks to such a great extent that many shark species are already nearing extinction. They may be all gone within only 10 or 20 years." (emphasis mine)