For decades great white sharks have had a reputation of being invincible and deadly predators. However, contrary to popular belief, great white sharks are curious creatures by nature and usually do not intentionally hurt humans because they look like a tasty meal. Rather, the sharks engage in what is called “sample biting.” Since the 1920s, a time span of nearly 100 years, there have been only 100 attacks and 13 fatalities.
Over the course of this last year, the life of this creature has been brought under the limelight and questioned as to whether its life is at stake. Scientific studies have revealed that there are only 350 great white sharks remaining in the wild, leading the California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider naming the great white shark an endangered or threatened species.
The Fish and Game commissioners unanimously voted, 4-0, to follow through with a petition made by three environmental groups, which will categorize the great whites as an endangered species. The next step for the great white population is for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct their own study for a final vote in 2014 to determine where the great whites stand on the endangered species list.
However, there have still been instances when fisheries accidentally capture a great white in their nets. Fisheries are not fined for these unintended instances and will often find some way to make a profit off of their lucky catch, such as donating it to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. However, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has said that they will hold off on their great white captivity program for the sake of the petition.
The loss of the great white shark would pose as an adverse threat to the ocean food chain, not to mention a loss of the existence of such a rare ocean creature. Their extinction would be a harmful blow across the world. These sharks are needed to control the size of the seal and sea lion populations, and are also needed to prevent seals and sea lions from overeating the salmon population.
These giant, ferocious looking animals may seem invincible, but they are actually in a vulnerable situation with high stakes and rough waters.