Although Discovery Channel showcases its Shark Week programming for only seven days each summer, sharks—along with rays—deserve year-round attention for their roles in maintaining a healthy ocean and providing economic benefits through ecotourism. After all, how much can you learn about sharks in a week?
For example, did you know that international demand for shark fins and meat, combined with inadequate conservation and management, has led to the worldwide overfishing of many shark populations? Or that each year, at least 63 million and as many as 273 million sharks are killed in commercial fisheries? That’s an unsustainable number that has driven some species toward extinction.
Fortunately, the momentum for shark conservation has grown, with governments and regional and international bodies adopting policies to protect and manage these species. Since 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has listed 20 commercially important shark and ray species in Appendix II, which means any continued trade of these species must be sustainable. As a result, the listed sharks and rays have a chance to recover from overexploitation.
CITES has become a driving force in global shark conservation and management, but more work needs to be done. In August, CITES Parties will have an opportunity to add 18 shark and ray species to Appendix II, including:
Okay, we’re done giving away answers. Time to test your knowledge about sharks and rays with our quiz.