Most sharks are at the top of their food chain. They’re called apex predators and are critical in maintaining our marine environment. Many are open ocean shark species that travel long distances regularly in cycles and are considered to be migratory.
An example is the whale shark that migrates great long distances in the world’s oceans and has been recorded to travel over 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometres).
Crossing through man’s international water boundaries makes sharks vulnerable, and while researchers consider one third of all shark species as threatened, the migratory sharks are worse off with a figure of almost 50% considered threatened.
Since 2004 the Monterey Bay Aquarium has led a conservation, education and research program to save the great white sharks. It is famous for holding on display a great white shark that was viewed by the public for 198 days before she was released into the Monterey Bay. It was the longest exhibit of a great white shark ever.
During the six and a half months nearly a million visitors saw the shark exhibit and in the words of the Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium the great white shark became “the most powerful emissary for ocean conservation in our history.”
Experts agree that sharks in captivity do not really follow their natural behaviour in the wild. For an animal used to swimming freely for hundreds of miles in cycles of migration being kept in even monster size water tanks could cause them extreme stress, and even risk of life. However, we know that shark behaviour in the wild is not free of man’s harm in other ways, the fact remains that 50% are threatened.
Exhibiting sharks or any living creature in captivity is an age-old dilemma to mankind. Zoos have struggled with this for years. Can seeing and observing a living shark in an aquarium that strives to maintain it’s well being help save the species? Will my visit help fund the research that is necessary to save our marine environments?
Take a look at this video of the shark exhibition and conservation video http://youtu.be/caxzHsT9vXw . It’s from the group at www.supportoursharks.com. The site reports that 273 million sharks are killed by humans each year.
How do you feel about seeing sharks in aquariums? Have you seen one? Would you pay to go see a shark in an Aquarium. Would you be less likely to visit an aquarium if it did not have a shark exhibit?