Thousands of years of existence have made the sharks one of the most successful animals on the planet, until now. Two species of hammerhead sharks were added to the The World Conservation Union's Red List as an endangered species earlier this month. Two other shark species were also added to the Red List as “threatened”; all of them are types of hammerhead sharks.
The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, the first to be added to the list, inhabits temperate and tropical waters around the world and can be found in the deep waters just off of continental shelves in their rage. In certain parts of the Atlantic Ocean, numbers of the Scalloped Hammerhead have plummeted by as much as 95%. In addition to environmental factors, the fishing industry and the barbaric practice known as finning has been blamed for much of the decline.
Finning is a practice where hunters capture live sharks, slice off their fins, then toss them back into the water where they die a slow and agonizing death; they then sell the fins for large profits as a delicacy for Asia's wealthier customers. Finning has caused international outrage and there are many people working to ban the practice around the world. As of 2013 27 of the countries in the European Union had already banned the practice. Other nations such as Australia, Taiwan, the US, and Canada have also taken action to ban finning.
Shark conversation efforts have been stepping up all over the world to save the ocean's top predator which is an apex species for the entire ocean. To understand what this means, consider the following analogy: If the loss of other species is the canary in the mines, then the loss of sharks is like a cave-in. Healthy, stable shark populations means a healthy and stable ocean, without which life on this planet can not survive. It is another devastating situation for an ocean Eco-system that is already on the brink of collapse.
Several species of sharks all over the world may be in trouble, but this is the first to make the Red List of endangered and threatened species, sadly, it may not be the last.