Hundreds of different shark species roam our oceans and play different important roles in the ecosystem. Forty species of sharks swim in Hawaiian waters alone.
Sharks are apex predators, which means they are at the top of the oceanic food chain. This also means that they have a direct impact on the ecology of our oceans.
Some species of shark – like the blacktip reef shark and the tiger shark – feed on the sick or injured fish of a reef system, creating resilient populations of fish and other marine life. This balanced system supports fishing, tourism and other economic activities in our ocean that help marine communities thrive. Without sharks, marine ecosystems will change, threatening both livelihoods and the natural environment.
The Nature Conservancy is working around the globe to protect and restore important ocean habitats. From the pristine living laboratory of Palmyra Atoll to the coral nurseries off the coast of Florida to the Coral Triangle of Indonesia, our scientists are working with governments, businesses, and other partners to improve the way we care for and utilize our oceans and improve their ability to take care of us.
Recent events in the world of marine conservation are encouraging for sharks, including the declarations of new marine sanctuaries, bans on selling fins, and other commitments that recognize the importance of sharks to people, economies and nature. Is 2013 the year we stop fearing sharks and began fearing a world without them?
- An estimate 73 million sharks are killed solely for their fins which are then used to make soup, but many US states including California and a few countries have recently implemented or are considering bans.
- There are hundreds of shark species in our ocean ranging in size from the deep-water pygmy shark (about 8 inches) to the whale shark (up to 50 feet or more) and they all play different roles in the ecosystem.
- Sharks are frequently cited as one of the top attractions for divers, bringing in millions of tourism dollars annually to some island communities.
- Sharks are top predators and many healthy coral reef systems need sharks to balance the population of other marine life.
Help us as we protect and restore marine habitats for sharks and other marine life.
Hungry for more shark tales? The Nature Conservancy in Hawai'i reports from the Pacific Ocean.
In Palmyra, a living lab that includes apex predators helps scientists understand their role in our ocean.
In Florida and the US Virgin Islands, The Nature Conservancy and partners are growing and restoring corals which are important habitat for sharks.
In the Caribbean, commitments to expand shark conservation were announced at the recent Caribbean Summit of government and business leaders held in May 2013.
Raja Ampat has set aside all of its 4 million hectares of coastal and marine waters as a shark sanctuary.
Without sharks the whole ocean system changes -- and now these "protectors" of the ocean need us to protect them. Palau, although a small island nation with limited capacity to protect the vast ocean, is working to do just that.
What does it feel like to be bitten by a shark? Our marine scientist shares his story and why he continues to get back into the water.
The decimation of sharks worldwide is having untold consequences on ocean organisms, says Conservancy senior marine scientist Mark Spalding.
Photos & Video
These amazing images of sharks will have you coming back for more!
Decorate your smartphone in honor of Shark Week with this great shot of lemon sharks.
Located 1,000 miles south of Hawai'i, Palmyra Atoll is one of the most spectacular marine wilderness areas on Earth.