With the recent increase in shark attacks, it may seem that sharks are dangerous animals. While it is true that some sharks, such as the bull shark, are more likely to attack humans that others, the fact remains that shark attacks overall are rare. Between 1959-1990, 1155 people were struck by lightning in the state of Florida. In this same time period, only 180 were attacked by sharks. Only 4 of the shark attacks were fatal. Often, sharks attack humans because they mistake their movements for those of sea mammals. There are also certain conditions where shark attacks are more likely to occur. Shark attacks are more likely to occur at dusk or at night. It's best to stay out of the water at these times. Murky or polluted waters also tend to cause sharks to mistake humans for their natural prey.

Hysteria over shark attacks can lead to the senseless killing of sharks. Most shark attacks are 100% preventable. Sharks do not come on land to attack us. If a person goes into the water, they are knowingly taking the risk of being attacked by a shark. If they choose to do it anyway, the attack is their responsibility. Sharks are animals and do not think in the same manner as humans. They attack instinctively, for food or out of fear, not out of malice.

Increased demand for shark cartilage is another threat sharks face. Some believe that shark cartilage helps prevent and treat cancer. Health food stores freely sell shark cartilage and many are now taking it as a cancer prevention supplement. As the demand for shark cartilage increases, so does shark fishing. It has been estimated that the spines of about 100 sharks are needed to treat a single cancer patient for one year.

Shark finning was also a threat. Sharks fins are considered a delicacy and can be sold for a high price. Since most commercial fisherman do not have boats large enough to transport a large number of sharks, most turned to finning, as it doesn’t require transporting an entire shark carcass. Finning consists of catching a shark on a line. They are often left on the line for hours. They are then pulled on the deck of the boat, their fins are cut off and they are thrown back in the water to die. Approximately 150 million sharks were killed in this manner in just one year. Shark finning was banned in US waters in December 2000.

Sharks are an important part of the ecosystem. Many are scavengers and help keep the water free of garbage and disease. By nature, they feed on the weak and help keep the gene pool strong. They also feed on certain species, keeping balance by preventing overpopulation.

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