Shark Week tends to bring out mostly unwarranted fears about shark attacks
, but actually sharks are the ones that should be scared ... of humans. As a reminder, the Planet 100 show offers a list of the 5 most endangered shark species:
5. Basking shark
In at number five, the slow-moving and generally harmless basking shark gets its name from basking in shallow temperate waters to feed. Unfortunately its docile nature has been its downfall as it fast became a staple of the fishing industry. Its fins appear in shark fin soup and its cartilage is used in traditional Chinese medicine or as an aphrodisiac in Japan.
4. Dusky shark
In at number four, one of the largest of its genus, dusky sharks have a slender, streamlined body and their eyes are equipped with protective third eyelids.But sadly, they too are being endangered by a bowl of soup. Dusky sharks are now so depleted that scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service estimate it could take from 100 to 400 years to rebuild their populations.
3. Scalloped hammerhead
Defined by its unusual hammer-shaped head, the scalloped hammerhead is often seen in schools of up to 100. Like the many large coastal shark species, the scalloped hammerhead has seen population declines of over 95 percent in the last 30 years — mind-boggling given sharks evolved some 400 million years ago. The scalloped hammerhead was added to the “globally endangered” species list in 2008.
2. Whale shark
In at number two, whale sharks — which can grow up to 40 feet — are the largest living fish species, can live up 100 years, and are endangered. Although revered around the world, whale sharks are targeted by fishermen in areas where they seasonally aggregate. Considered vulnerable by IUCN, their hunting is banned in some countries including the Philippines, India and Taiwan.
1. Great white shark
At number one, although they were depicted in "Jaws" as a ferocious man-eater, in reality humans are not the preferred prey of the great white shark. In fact, its humans that are endangering great whites through overfishing and collisions with shipping vessels. It’s now estimated that only 3,500 great whites are left in the wild, making them more endangered than tigers.
MNN homepage photo: cdascher/iStockphoto