Another Reason to Protect Sharks

Gabby Bragg

More and more, light is being shed on shark fin soup and the rapidly declining numbers in sharks. Which is a great thing for surfers, but not so much to the environment.

According to a recent article from the University of Toronto   a new study shows that a decline in shark populations can be detrimental on coral reefs. A group of Canadian and Australian researchers have fund that where shark numbers are being reduced due to commercial fishing, there is also a decrease in the herbivores that play a key role in reef health.

They admitted that the results might seem strange, but there is a “fundamental change” in the food chain structures. Mid-level predators were on a rise while the herbivores were decreasing, like the parrotfishes that eat algae that would otherwise overwhelm the coral reefs.

This information may prove integral to restoration and conservation efforts of these sharks. But on a good note, small marine-protected areas could be effective in protecting top-level predators and allowing coral reefs to recover. This article does a good job explaining what the team found from their study on reefs around Australia. Hopefully they can get some backing to start finding ways to save these sharks.

3 thoughts on “Another Reason to Protect Sharks”

  1. Yes! This is a great article, and the study that it explains has been a long time coming! Shark biologists have known that sharks are keystone species in tropical reef ecosystems, but this study provides some good evidence for it.
    What kind of ecological concept that we’ve seen in class does this represent (hint: where are sharks in the food web)?

  2. Apex predators are an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. A lot of people have a hard time making the connection between the presence of apex predators, ecosystem health and ultimately what are benefits to humans.

Leave a Reply