man is the enemy

The Environment

Oceanic sharks and rays live so far from land that the average person is unlikely to ever see them. But these species, which live in the vast open ocean, are also among the most revered, and include the great white shark and the giant manta ray. For millennia, their remoteness has allowed these species to largely avoid humans. But since the early 1950s, industrial-scale fishing fleets have been able to reach distant waters and gradually spread to exploit the entire global ocean.

Rising demand over the same period for shark and ray meat, as well as fins, gill plates and liver oil, has caused catches of the 30 or so oceanic species to soar. Marine biologists have been raising the alarm for several decades now, but their warnings were often limited to what regional trends showed. Now, new research has brought together disparate threads of data into a single, global analysis of shark and ray populations in the open ocean.

Worldwide, oceanic shark and ray abundance has declined by 71 percent since 1970. More than half of the 31 species examined are now considered to be endangered, or even critically endangered. Read on.