Sharks occupy the top of the marine food web, which makes them critical players in the ocean ecosystem. However, they are being fished and killed in large numbers. Sharks’ biological characteristics make them particularly vulnerable to overfishing: They grow slowly, become sexually mature relatively late in life, and produce few offspring. This vulnerability is reflected in the numerous shark species that are threatened or endangered.
Although they play a prominent role in our oceans, the more than 500 species of sharks are still poorly understood. Supporting research to better learn about and protect them is a priority for Pew’s conservation work.