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West Coast Great Whites Need Endangered Species Act Protection
WildEarth Guardians submitted a petition on June 21 to the National Marine Fisheries Service seeking to list the West Coast population of great white sharks as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This tiny population of approximately 440 sharks inhabits the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii and is threatened by pollution, habitat destruction and human exploitation. Great white sharks world-wide have suffered large population declines and are designated as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“The film Jaws contributed to years of human persecution and made great whites a popular target of sport fishing,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Now it is the sharks who ‘need a bigger boat’ to survive—the legal ark of the Endangered Species Act.”
Because of their near-legendary “big-fish” status, great white sharks have very high commercial value; teeth can sell for $600—$800 per tooth and jaw sets can be valued at up to $50,000. The high value of these products encourages poaching and illegal trade in shark parts.
Pollution presents a particular problem for the petitioned population segment. Contaminants, including pesticides, fertilizers, trace metals, petroleum and organochlorines such as PCBs are washed into the California Bight, an important habitat for young great white sharks. High levels of mercury and organochlorine, contaminants found in great white sharks in the Southern California Bight, may be causing behavioral alterations, emaciation, cerebral lesions and impaired sexual development. As top predators, sharks are susceptible to bioaccumulating large amounts of mercury; on average, mercury accumulates to levels a million times higher in the bodies of predatory fish than in the atmosphere.
This population of great white sharks adheres to an interesting migratory pattern. Adults spend most of their time in coastal aggregation sites either off central California or near Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja California. Adult males will gather yearly in a patch of ocean between Hawaii and California known as the White Shark Café. Females migrate once every two years to an expansive area around the Café, but are usually only found in the Café itself once the males have returned to their coastal aggregation sites.
Great white sharks have a low reproductive rate—they mature slowly and females give birth only once every 2-3 years, to litters of 2-10 pups. Pup survival is likely low. Because of this, it is difficult for great white shark populations to recover from even minor losses—research off the Farallon Islands in California suggested that the removal of only four white sharks greatly reduced and may have temporarily eliminated an entire local population of sharks.
Most sharks, including great whites, play an important role as apex predators in maintaining ocean bio-communities. Ecosystem stability and biodiversity, Congressional priorities for the ESA, could seriously suffer from the loss of these top predators.
“In the sea as on land, predators are key species in maintaining the natural balance,” continued Jones. “They often face unjust and disproportionate persecution or intensive human exploitation—the great white shark is no exception. Yet protection for these powerful creatures would result in benefits for a host of other organisms that share their habitat.”
Listing under the ESA has proven an effective safety net for imperiled species: more than 99 percent of plants and animals listed under the act persist today. The law is especially important as a bulwark against the current extinction crisis; plants and animals are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities. Scientists estimate that 227 species would have gone extinct if not for ESA listing. Listing species with global distribution can both protect the species domestically, and help focus U.S. resources toward enforcement of international regulation and recovery of the species.
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
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