Only 3,500 Great Whites Now Left in the Wild

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Great white shark swimming near the surface of the water

Alastair Pollock Photography / Getty Images

Two of the world's most famous carnivores are now under the microscope for being perilously close to extinction. One of them, the tiger, has gotten plenty of PR recently, along with the frightening revelation that the entire species could be on the brink of being wiped out. But it turns out that the Great White shark may be even more endangered. With only a few thousand left in the wild, and an icier public opinion toward them, the fearsome Great White could well go extinct in coming years.

The Great White Plight

According to the Guardian, a recent survey completed as a part of the Census for Marine Life, has found that there are only some 3,500 individual Great Whites left in the wild — around the same number of tigers that conservationists believe are left. And shark populations are plummeting around the world — the Great White being no exception. The sharks are being killed from collisions with shipping vessels and from overfishing.

But while we've seen a bevy of photo essays and articles lamenting the diminishing numbers of tigers, it seems like the fish that inspired Jaws gets next to no love. And herein lies the Great White's problem — marine conservationists think that the shark may go extinct long before the tiger, simply because nobody cares as much. People have a negative opinion of Great Whites; they're afraid of them. Incidents of shark attacks have been ingrained in the public conscious, and as a result, most are more cavalier about the species demise.

Coexisting With the Beast

It doesn't have to be that way. In our technologically advanced world, surely we can find solutions to coexist with some of the most awe-inspiring creatures in nature.

Indeed, Ronald O'Dor, a senior scientist at the Census of Marine Life, told the Guardian that "The Australians have now got a system where they put tags on great white sharks and they have receivers on the beaches so when a great white comes into the bay the receiver automatically makes a cell phone call and tells the guy in charge to close the beach. So we can co-exist with marine life."

It may be harder to drum up support for a razor-toothed, underwater predator that, thanks to Steven Spielberg, still gives baby boomers nightmares about swimming in the ocean. But I for one think the Great White deserves our conservation efforts as much as the beautiful tiger — we are, after all, responsible for endangering both.