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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Shark Expert McGuire to Speak in Dallas

Sep 07, 2012 09:43AM

Dallas-based EarthPeople and Shark Stewards, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps conserve our oceans through the protection of sharks, to host a talk by Shark Stewards Executive Director David McGuire, an award-winning shark conservationist, marine biologist and documentary filmmaker, at 2 p.m., September 16, at the Museum of Nature and Science at The Science Place. This family-friendly event is great for kids.

Shark Stewards is also hosting a Party for the Sharks, from 5 to 7 p.m., September 15, at The People’s Last Stand, in Mockingbird Station. Shark-inspired drink specials, shark trivia, a sustainable/local menu and a discussion with McGuire at 6 p.m. about hammerhead and great white shark conservation are all on the menu.

Today, sharks face many challenges to their survival. As human greed drives them toward extinction, we must wonder if 25 years from now, Shark Week will run on The History Channel instead of The Discovery Channel. After more than 400 million years on planet Earth, sharks are being decimated by overfishing and the lucrative trade in shark fins. Shark fin soup, a delicacy symbolizing wealth and status in China, now sells for as much as $100 a bowl in that country. Fishermen cut off the fins, and then toss sharks back into the ocean, where they bleed to death.

Humans take the lives of approximately 73 million sharks a year and threaten one-third of shark species with extinction. Brutal reports of thousands of lifeless, finless sharks found on the ocean floor reveal the recklessness of turning nature into a commodity. Because sharks mature late and produce few young, they cannot possibly reproduce at the same rate at which we kill them. By contrast, shark attacks only lead to between six and to 12 reported deaths of humans per year globally.

According to a Shark Stewards spokesperson, “There are many reasons why protecting sharks is not the cause of choice for the average Westerner. For one thing, sharks are scary. And the centuries-old practice of eating them, part cultural tradition, part big business, is mostly happening on the other side of the world. Most Americans don’t eat shark fin soup, so why should they feel responsible for the slaughter that makes it possible?

“Besides, with crises such as hunger threatening nearly 1 billion people worldwide and the dark economic cloud looming over the rest of us, we have more pressing concerns. Those are all the excuses many of us use. But we can no longer afford to make excuses. More than half of the world’s people depend on the oceans to provide their primary protein sources. If hunger is a global crisis now, imagine what will happen when those food sources disappear as the marine food chain is drastically altered.”

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