By Kajal Reed
“Man eating machines!” “Man was attacked by a shark” “Sharks were spotted in the waters by the shore, do not go in the ocean!.” Those are the types of shark-related headlines that we hear throughout our lives. We also hear sharks are scary or sharks are dangerous; in reality that's all wrong. You may be quick to disagree, but it's a fact. Sharks are misunderstood, gentle, curious, and shy creatures of the sea. Many sharks, in fact, never eat humans to begin with. Whenever a shark does attack, it's by accident. When sharks see something that they are unaware of, and they're curious to see what it is, they will bite into that object, thus leading to people getting injured. Trust me, when a shark realizes that you're not his food or realizes that you're human, it quickly swims away. They don't want us.
Often in the sea, we move and imitate sources of food for sharks, like seal and fish, which is why sharks attack. But we shouldn't be afraid of sharks! They're really important and valuable to us because our whole ecosystem would be a wreck without them! This means that we would also be affected. The shellfish industry would not do well, and people who are big seafood eaters would not be happy with the outcome.
Hundreds of millions of sharks are being killed every year. The practice is called shark finning. Shark finning is when a person cuts a shark’s fins and throws its body back into the sea while they are still alive. Shark fins are used for shark fin soup, in which the fins are completely useless and have no taste. This occurs throughout the world.
In addition, sharks are often killed by bycatch. Bycatch is when you're fishing and a marine animal is caught unintentionally while trying to fish for other species, like tuna, crab, etc. It's a sad thing to believe and see.
I believe everyone should take the time to realize sharks aren't bad. They are misunderstood, they need to be heard, and they need a voice. I will be their voice. My suggestion is that everyone should take the time to watch the documentary Shark Water by Robert Stewart - it’s on Netflix. It can really change people's views, and it especially changed my point of view a lot. I have always been a lover of sharks but my understanding of them expanded greatly. If it weren't for this documentary, I wouldn't be the person I am today, which is a shark advocate.