Posts Tagged 'great white shark'

Great White Shark Spotted Off New Jersey Coast

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Last week, reports surfaced that a 16-foot-long great white shark was spotted off the coast of New Jersey, near Atlantic City. While the sighting caused a good deal of commotion, great whites are actually spotted on occasion in our area.

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The great white spotted off the NJ coast. Photo: Rob Pompilio

Additionally, species like the smooth and spiny dogfish, sandbar sharks and sand tiger sharks are also found in our area. In the summer months, tiger, dusky, common threshers, shortfin makos and blue sharks will also frequent the deeper waters in our area.

It’s important to note that shark attacks are rare. Sharks are not the “man-eating machines” they are often perceived to be. In fact, species like the great white far prefer seals and other marine mammals as their choice meal. Shark incidents usually occur if the animal mistakes a human for prey.

To avoid any confusion with these animals, here are some important safety tips for beach-goers this summer: 

  • Don’t swim alone.
  • Don’t swim at dawn or dusk.
  • Avoid areas where seals live.
  • Don’t swim in areas where you see active bait (small fish) near shore.

In reality, sharks have more to fear from us than we do from them. Over 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year. Did you know great white sharks are a federally protected species? From bycatch (when animals are caught unintentionally) to shark finning (the practice of slicing off the fins of a live shark and then discarding the animal at sea), even the largest predatory fish on Earth is not immune to human-related threats.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Save our finned friends!

If you love sharks, like us, you most likely have a case of Shark Week fever! Sharks have been swimming in the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years (since before the dinosaurs).

Although Discovery Channel’s annual event has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning sales of fin headbands and shark costumes for pets, this special week also brings the important issue of shark conservation to the forefront of people’s minds. These beautiful and amazing creatures might be scary to some, but their numbers are dwindling at an even scarier rate. As many as one-third of shark species are headed for extinction if we don’t act now.

In the 31 years the National Aquarium, Baltimore, has been open, sharks have gone from a commercial fishery the federal government declared underutilized to the brink of extinction. In that time, hammerhead shark populations in the Atlantic have decreased by nearly 93%. Since 1986, all recorded shark populations in the northwestern Atlantic, with the exception of mako sharks, have declined by more than 50%.

Scientists warn that continual overfishing of sharks has decimated the population, which cannot sustain the current rates. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30% of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction.

Below are just a few easy ways you can support our finned friends:

Join the Shark Week Facebook, Twitter Campaign
Show your support and join the Shark Week thunderclap. Through this online platform, shark fans can lend their voice to the cause and spread the word about protecting sharks from extinction.

Protest Shark Fin Soup
Every year, fins from tens of millions of sharks are used for this traditional, non-nutritional meal. Many species have been depleted nearly to the brink of extinction. Research shows that the massive depletion of sharks has cascading effects throughout the ocean’s ecosystems. Locally, the depletion of sandbar sharks has caused an increase in cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay, which threatens the oyster industry. You can help by signing the Humane Society’s No Shark Fin Pledge.

Petition to List Great White Sharks Under the Endangered Species Act 
Great white sharks are disappearing. Help U.S. West Coast great whites get the protection they need by signing the Oceana petition.

Participate in a Shark Tagging Trip
Come aboard a National Aquarium shark tagging trip! Tagging sharks provides scientists with information on stock identity, migration and abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior. Although our 2012 trips are sold out, we encourage you to sign up for a 2013 trip! Next year’s dates will be announced in spring 2013. 

Great white sharks: magnificent mysteries

By Guest Contributor Richard Theiss, owner of RTSea Productions

Great white sharks: one of the most magnificent and misunderstood of all the ocean’s creations. Perhaps you already appreciate the vital role sharks play in maintaining balance in the marine ecosystem, but when it comes to the great white, that’s where you draw the line. If so, come to the National Aquarium in Baltimore for a screening of Island of the Great White Shark on June 18th at 7 p.m. (For ticketing information, click here or call 410-727-3474.) 

As executive producer and cinematographer of Island of the Great White Shark, the Aquarium has honored me with the opportunity to kick off the Beyond the Boardwalk summer event series. Here is a chance to see an accurate and up-close portrait of these amazing animals and to learn about the vital research of marine scientists dedicated to protecting these sharks from possible extinction. And as we begin our summer fun, perhaps it’s a perfect time to set matters straight.

According to recent news reports, there would seem to be a heightened degree of shark activity from the California/Mexico coast to Martha’s Vineyard. In the end, it might just be one of those unexplained anomalies. But will the media pick up on this and herald a new “Summer of Jaws?”  Will people’s fear and misunderstanding be reinforced by sensationalistic reporting?

Well, as supporters of the National Aquarium and lovers of all things aquatic, that’s where you come in. As I have held screening/lectures for Island of the Great White Shark at major aquariums across the country, I find myself typically “preaching to the choir,” so I often pose this question: “Most of you here have probably never had or ever will have shark fin soup. So you may not be part of the problem, but how do we make you part of the solution?” That gets people scratching their heads.

We must all become disciples to the cause. We need to enlighten those who are still in the dark regarding shark-human interaction and shark conservation. With Island of the Great White Shark, I hope as many people as possible see and hear a different perspective regarding the public’s perceived “Darth Vader” of all sharks.

Whether it’s shark protection, marine conservation, or global warming, we need to make changes in our daily lives and we need to exercise our ability to influence others – our leaders, our nation, governments, and businesses – to move in the right direction. Act by example, vote by choice, influence by action.

 


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