Summer's here, beaches are open and Discovery Channel's Shark Week has begun. This year's lineup is as action-packed and adrenaline-filled as usual, including a new installment of Air Jaws, the spectacular series featuring great white sharks leaping out of the ocean at great speed to hunt seals. Luckily, popular opinion of sharks is evolving. While they were once thought of as mindless attackers, conservation groups have succeeded in publicizing the fact that they're a critical part of the ecosystem, and that human activities like fishing and shark finning have had a devastating impact on shark populations. For more on sharks and oceans, here are five articles.
You can read these articles using CPL's Online Resources, but I've also noted if an article is available freely on the web.
"Click Bait" by Chelsea Murray
The Walrus, June 2019 (Also available on The Walrus website)
Chelsea Murray reports on Ocearch, the great white shark research team whose nontraditional funding model allows it to obtain and share data outside of the confines of the scientific academic community. While the team has cut through some red tape in tracking shark migration patterns, its methods have been criticized as sensational and unscientific.
"Fin-tastic Beasts (And Where to Find Them)" by Martin Fletcher
Telegraph Magazine, March 16, 2019
The largest fish in the sea, whale sharks, can grow to 30 feet long. Like humpback whales, they are filter feeders; opening their mouths in concentrated areas of plankton to feed. Martin Fletcher describes the magical experience of diving with these gentle giants off the coast of Madagascar, and stresses their endangered status.
"Divers Film Close Encounter with Great White Shark 'Deep Blue,' Thought to be One of the World's Largest" by Adam Forrest
The Independent (Online), January 19, 2019 (also available on The Independent's website)
Diver Ocean Ramsey and a team of marine conservationists capture film of Deep Blue, thought to be one of the largest great white sharks at 20 feet long, off the coast of Hawaii. Deep Blue is featured in a Shark Week episode.
"Watch a Great White Shark Hunt Through a Kelp Forest for Its Next Meal" by JoAnna Klein
The New York Times, April 5 2019 (Also available on The New York Times website)
South African researchers have discovered that great white sharks will maneuver through kelp forests to hunt seals, a behavior that is at odds with their reputation as less deliberative, more active hunters. To get this footage, the researchers attached cameras to the dorsal fins of eight sharks over a period of three years.
"Plastic." by Laura Parker
National Geographic, June 2018
Laura Parker takes a deep dive into how plastics are affecting marine life for National Geographic. Unrecycled plastic waste, blown or washed into the ocean from trash dumped on land or in rivers, is estimated to kill millions of marine animals a year. Although many are strangled by discarded fishing nets and six-pack rings, most ocean wildlife die from ingesting microplastics, which break down from their original form once in the ocean. Happily, there are simple remedies, such as using reusable bags and water bottles instead of single-use plastics, and buying in bulk to avoid plastic packaging.
Happy Shark Week!