Too many people think of sharks as killers, as eating machines, as mindless attackers of swimmers and surfers. The truth is, though, that sharks are an invaluable apex predator in the ocean that have been here for millions upon millions of years, serving the important purpose of keeping oceanic ecosystems in balance.
As apex predators, sharks are handed the duty of killing of sick, injured or weak fish to keep stocks plentiful and healthy. Species of sharks are found around the world, from coral reefs at the equator to the icy waters of Greenland. From the deep sea dwelling Goblin shark to the lightning fast Mako to the enormous filter feeding whale shark, the diversity and niche jobs filled by sharks are astounding.
But we are fishing them out of the sea at rates that spell extinction in a matter of years. What would happen if, or when, that day comes? Andy DeHart, Discovery Channel's Shark Advisor, explains the importance of sharks and the dangers facing them in this short video:
For humans, sharks are more valuable alive than dead. They are important for our various economies from fisheries even to tourism. But most importantly they are valuable to the ocean, and without sharks even landlubber humans will suffer.
Learn more about sharks all through shark week! Check out our coverage here.