Jaw-st wanting some room to swim

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Illustration by Georgia Hatchett

The ocean poses as a scary place. No one knows how deep it runs. No one knows what kind of creatures delve in that deep darkness. No one knows much. Oceans cover 70 percent of the world, yet remain a mystery. One thing that people know though, is that sharks live there, and sharks are scary.

PSYCH. Sharks aren’t scary! Are you kidding me? Put yourself in the shark’s position. You’re just swimming around your home when suddenly there’s something above you with annoying legs kicking in the water. That’s the equivalent of a perfectly roasted chicken—or tofurkey—showing up at your doorstep. Are you just going to leave that perfectly roasted chicken alone? No, you’re going to eat it.

Sharks aren’t scary. They are carnivorous creatures, and if you’re stupid enough to swim in their territory, don’t complain if you get bit. However, people don’t see it that way. When someone receives an injury from a shark, it’s all hands on deck to find that shark and kill it. Imagine aliens coming from outer space, seeing humans walking around on land and killing them because they are an inconvenience. Does that sound logical? Nope. It sounds like oceanic pest-control.

Have you ever thought about cows? Do you know what cows are? Blood thirsty killing machines! They kill an estimated 22 people per year, while sharks only kill about four people per year. So why do sharks have a scary movie about them, but not cows? Because cows don’t have sharp teeth? That just isn’t right.

The only thing sharks want to do is swim. Swim, eat small fish, mate, and swim. The ocean is their home, and we are invading it. Sharks don’t “infest” the ocean. If anything, humans infest the earth.

Shark fin soup is a popular delicacy in China, but its production is horrendous. People who harvest the shark meat use a method called finning. This involves dragging the sharks onto the boat by a hook, cutting off all the shark’s fins, while it is alive, then tossing the still-alive shark back into the ocean until it sinks to the bottom. It will either die from blood loss or from another animal eating it. Imagine that kind of pain.

About 100 million sharks are killed every year. Whether that’s from finning, killing unnecessarily, or contaminants in the ocean, this number is far too large. That kind of population decline is unsustainable.

Some annoying articles will have titles like, “Why you should care about sharks” or “Why sharks deserve more respect.” That’s great and all, but maybe you should care about sharks because they are a creature on this earth that has been depicted as a monster. Why? Because they help the food chain and ecosystem? Because they have been on this planet far longer than humans have?

Sharks possess sharp teeth and can range from 60 feet to 20 centimeters in size. At the end of the day, they are just animals trying to eat, living their own lives in their ocean home. So, instead of infesting their home, understand these misunderstood creatures and educate yourself. Shark Week runs July 23–30, so watch some Discovery Channel and make yourself aware. 

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