Oceanic shark populations dropped 71% since 1970

WASHINGTON (AP) — When marine biologist Stuart Sandin talks about sharks, it sounds like he’s describing Jedis of the ocean. “They are terrific predators, fast swimmers and they have amazing senses — they can detect any disturbance in the ocean from great distance,” such as smells or tiny changes in water currents.

Their ability to quickly sense anything outside the norm in their environment helps them find prey in the vastness of the open ocean. But it also makes them especially vulnerable in the face of increased international fishing pressure, as global fishing fleets have doubled since 1950.

“You drop a fishing line in the open ocean, and often it’s sharks that are there first — whether or not they’re the primary target,” said Sandin, who works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Scientists have known for decades that individual shark species are declining, but a new study drawing on 57 global datasets underscores just how dramatically worldwide populations have collapsed in the past half century.

Globally, the abundance of oceanic sharks and rays dropped more than 70% between 1970 and 2018, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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Source: WTOP