Endangered Sharks: When the Predator becomes the Hunted

15 Aug
Baby Shark

Image Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com

It is no surprise that the fertile Golfo Dulce is a nursery for many fish including juvenile sharks.  Sharks are abundant in these waters and these prehistoric creatures are some of the most intriguing of all of sea creatures. While they have gotten a bad wrap for being predators, they play a very important role in maintaining health of the oceans as predators and scavengers. Females travel from the ocean to this coastal area to birth pups in the mangroves where the young sharks find protection from large predators.  A growing concern are the free trade agreements with China that allow for large-scale extraction coupled with China’s insatiable appetite for shark fin soup.  The number of illegal shark poachers is on the rise and there is a growing push for shark protection initiatives in Costa Rica.

Shark Fins

Image Source: Pangeaseed.org

Due to the rising demand for shark fin soup in Asia, which sells for anywhere between $50 and $400, illegal poaching is becoming increasingly problematic.  Costa Rica is one of the areas that poachers are invading marine parks to catch sharks.  The Osa Peninsula is a vital environment for these vulnerable fish. Shark populations have decreased between 70% and 95%, which is threatening the overall health of the oceans.  Unlike other marine life and fish, sharks take 15 years to reach maturity to reproduce and then reproduce one shark pup per year. They also have a longer lifespan with whale sharks living up to 150 years. Such a slow and fragile reproduction rate means that overfishing of sharks is extremely dangerous and the populations will be unlikely to recover anytime soon.

Whale Shark

Image Source: Lightgalleries.net

In Costa Rica, strong efforts towards marine conservation to protect sharks and other fish from illegal and unsustainable fishing practices are in effect. Golfo Dulce is an important nursery for endangered Hammerhead Sharks. Conservation groups have begun an acoustic tracking program to protect the juveniles and pregnant females.

Divers and chasing a Whale Shark

Image Source: Revistautopia.com

As a result of this growing threat, bans and restrictions are in place to protect sharks from overfishing and illegal poachers. Protecting these biologically sensitive areas from unsustainable fishing practices requires continued effort.Golfo Dulce is a vital ecosystem for many young fish and protecting the area from overfishing is important to support the health of the fish populations especially vulnerable shark populations.  They play a significant role in the health of the overall ecosystem, which creates such a vibrant place for fishing.  Divers are also fans of seeing these creatures up close and personal.  There are many areas in Costa Rica will any dive is sure to produce a few shark sightings.  For ecotours, dives and fishing in this area, Crocodile Bay can accommodate you.

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