Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Sharks: Imperiled, Maligned, Fascinating

Animals
Sharks: Imperiled, Maligned, Fascinating
A sand tiger shark swims over the USS Tarpon in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Tane Casserley / NOAA

By John R. Platt

Here at The Revelator, we love a good shark story.

The problem is, there aren't all that many good shark stories. According to recent research, sharks and their relatives represent one of the world's most imperiled groups of species. Of the more than 1,250 known species of sharks, skates, rays and chimeras — collectively known as chondrichthyan fishes — at least a quarter are threatened with extinction.


That's just what we know so far. About half of all shark species have a conservation status of "data deficient," meaning we have no idea how well they're doing or whether they're at risk.

But that's why it's so important to tell stories about sharks. They're our lens into issues like conservation, ocean protection, overfishing, coastal development, wildlife trafficking and so much more. And as frequently maligned species — Jaws, anyone? — sharks also help us to understand our relationship with predators that may seem scary but don't really pose much of a threat.

Sharks also give us an opportunity to talk about people — the people living near them, the people harming them, the people who rely on them, and most importantly the experts working to understand and conserve them.

And honestly, sharks are just fascinating. They come in all manner of shapes and sizes; often boast amazing behaviors; serve important roles in their ecosystems; and have wide and varied reproductive strategies — some of which make them more vulnerable to exploitation. Oh, and most of them look pretty cool (although there are a few oddities in the bunch — we're talking about you, goblin sharks).

So let's keep talking about sharks — whether it's during Shark Week or the other 51 weeks of the year.

With that in mind, we've collected our best essays and articles about sharks and related conservation issues (and we'll add to this list as we go along). Check them out below:

Broader Ocean and Conservation Issues:

The Top 10 Ocean Biodiversity Hotspots to Protect

How Do You Protect a Species You Can't See?

Here's Our Best Opportunity to Save the Oceans — and Ourselves

Coral in Crisis: Can Replanting Efforts Halt Reefs' Death Spiral?

What Are the Biggest Challenges for Saving the Oceans?

Empowering Communities to Save the Ocean

Something Fishy: Toxic Plastic Pollution Is Traveling Up the Food Chain

Trump's Offshore Oil Plan: Like Nothing the Country Has Ever Seen

John R. Platt is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His "Extinction Countdown" column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.

Reposted with permission from The Revelator.

A wild mink in Utah was the first wild animal in the U.S. found with COVID-19. Peter Trimming via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A mass methane release could begin an irreversible path to full land-ice melt. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

By Peter Giger

The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By John R. Platt

The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.

Read More Show Less
A hazy Seattle skyline due to wildfire smoke is seen on September 11, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Lindsey Wasson / Getty Images

Washington state residents are taking climate matters into their own hands. Beginning this month, 90 members of the public join the country's first climate assembly to develop pollution solutions, Crosscut reported.

Read More Show Less
Boletus mushrooms such as these are on the menu at ONA restaurant in Arès, France. Jarry / Tripelon / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images)

For the first time ever, a vegan restaurant in France has been awarded a coveted Michelin star.

Read More Show Less