Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana, and SharkStewards filed a petition this week to list the Great White Shark as threatened orendangered. From the petition:
White sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, of the northeastern Pacific Ocean are in peril. New studies demonstrate that these sharks form a genetically distinct population. Such a population, covering a significant portion of the world’s oceans, urgently needs protection under the Endangered Species Act. Other new studies show that this population has only a few hundred adult and sub-adult individual white sharks left – a population level so low that the species is at risk of extinction even without regard to other threats.
At Audubon California we know sharks matter too. Last year we sent our own letter to encourage our local Sanctuaries to improve their white shark conservation.Great White Sharks face many of the same threats Northwest Pacific Seabird population face; namely, vulnerability to poor fishing practices that lead to injury and death. In addition to sharing threats, seabirds and sharks are kindred species in other respects: they are top or apex predators; meaning they are at the top of the food change and serve the most critical role in maintaining ecosystem health and inter-predator relationships are affected by the population of top predators.
Another shared trait is their use of the Farallon Islands. It is the most important habitat area for both due to the area’s rich food and breeding grounds. (For an entertaining account of sharks and birds of Farallon pick up The Devil’s Teeth.)
The third, and in our personal opinion, the most important trait sharks and birds share is their unique ability to capture the public’s imagination. Many conservationists become interested in the environment because a shark or a bird caught their attention as a child.
(Great White Shark photo by Terry Goss)