Why Sharks Aren't Actually That Scary

According to popular statistical source Ipsos, over half of Americans have galeophobia, or a fear of sharks. Although fear of something that could kill you is obviously rational, sharks are not as scary as they may seem. Annually, four people are killed by sharks worldwide. That number is extremely low. In fact, you’re more likely to die from high school football, cows, or horses, among countless other things.

Like all animals, sharks play a very important part in their ecosystem. They serve as a high level predator that prevents overpopulation for other species and keeps ocean life balanced. However, sharks are disproportionately hunted and fished for.

One such detrimental form of shark hunting is finning. Finning involves catching a shark, cutting off its fins (often for shark fin soup) and releasing the shark back into the water. Because sharks breathe through gills, meaning that water must be passing over them at all times, without fins to swim with these sharks sink to the bottom of the ocean and drown.

This inhumane way of hunting has been outlawed in many countries, including the United States. However, the number of sharks estimated to be finned each year is over seventy million. This has put many species of sharks on endangered species lists that predict they may be extinct within a few years.

While it may seem hard to help with this cause if you’re not a fisherman, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Aside from raising awareness about what shark finning is and the dangers it causes, you can sign petitions promoting legislature that protects sharks and boycott restaurants that sell shark fin soup.

The fear surrounding sharks is unnecessary considering that humans kill millions of sharks per year compared to the four shark-caused human deaths per year. By spreading the word that sharks are not as scary as they seem and that dangerous hunting practices such as finning are killing sharks, we can help protect our oceans for years to come.