Bring Back The Sharks On The Reefs

Save the Sharks in the Oceans

Not so rarely if you jump in the water all what you can see is: no fish, bare rock and lots of sea urchins feeding on the algae. If you ever try to snorkel or dive in Mediterranean sea you surly know what I am talking about. This was what I saw when I jumped in to the water of the cost of Croatia for the first time. And I thought how beautiful it was. Simply I did not know any better back then. Same like many other people as these days it is not so easy to start your underwater experience on pristine coral reefs. More likely you are going to see death coral, jellyfish, algae overgrowing the corals, lots of bacteria and most of the large animals long gone. This is what most marine scientist experience as well because we started the real scuba diving marine science long after the huge decrease of marine life all over the world. But imagine what the time machine can do with our perception of the ocean if we were able to get on one and travel hundred years back. What do you think we would get to see in those times long passed? Not easy to imagine is it? I will use a little help from great traveler and sailor I always really admired. When Captain Cook first came to Christmas Islands in 1777 he described huge numbers of sharks everywhere. They were even trying to bit on oars of the small boats and the Cooks man kept shutting them in big numbers just for they amusement when they were going ashore. Within 250 hours of diving on those islands in 2005 marine-biologist Eric Sala did not see a single shark. But still if most of the people would do couple dives on these islnads they would probably consider the place perfectly ok.

But I am afraid we just do not have idea anymore what OK means. Most of us think that one or two sharks per reef is totally great number. If we see a school of barracudas, some trevally and tunas we come with smiling faces of how great the dive was and how well preserve the coral reef actually is. Which may be perfectly right for todays measures but if we were to dive 100 years ago we would see different story. Booming corals forming amazing structures and healthy marine life. Only when we went to pristine reefs, and we could seen the resemblance of these times, only than we have realised that natural world of most marine places is up side down. The biomes pyramid was inverted. On perfectly natural and healthy reef the top predators are count for most of the biomes in there. Some places up to 85 percent. Not the 15 percent we used to think and take for normal. If we have more predators there is more of everything. We have more sharks, more snappers, more tunas, more barracudas which, unlike marine goats, clean the reef and permit the corals to replenished. Healthy coral produces more fish and especially great number of all sorts of clamps which filter the water from microbes. If we want to have our healthy reefs back in their old beauty we need to bring back the predators. We need to to stop with shark finning and overfishing of all sort. Next time I would like to write little bit more about how we can actually do it.

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