Help Save Sharks!

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Sharks are beautiful animals that have roamed our oceans since before the time of dinosaurs. Almost all types of sharks face extreme pressure due to overfishing - but you can help! Read about the issues below or schedule your own Eye-to-Eye Shark Dive to learn about these misunderstood animals and the challenges they face.

kids looking at sharks

Did you know?

Sharks are essential to OCEAN HEALTH
Sharks are top-level predators that help maintain a balance in the marine food web. Many sharks prey on wounded or sick animals, keeping the populations of various species healthy. Others scavenge the ocean by feeding on dead animals or by filter feeding. The loss of sharks due to overfishing may mean the loss of many more species, including those that humans rely on for food.

white block 
Sharks are killed just for their fins

In most commercial fisheries, the meat of a shark has little value. The fins, however, are highly valued and are used for shark fin soup and medicinal purposes. Every year, millions of sharks fall victim to the horrific practice of finning. The fins of the shark are cut off and the rest of the shark is discarded in the sea to die.

Many sharks also are caught in nets and fishing lines, as accidental bycatch. Longline fishing, bottom trawlers, and gillnets produce large numbers of shark bycatch. Simple gear changes, innovative hook designs, and new fishing methods could greatly reduce shark bycatch while also giving higher yields of target fish and saving time and money for fishing crews.

Learn More (Warning: Graphic video)

Shark populations ARE in peril

Sharks mature late in life. Many do not start reproducing until they are 10 years or older, and many species give birth to only a few young. Consequently, many don’t reproduce quickly enough to keep up with the intense level of fishing and accidental bycatch.

Sharks are unreasonably feared by people

jawsWe are constantly subjected to stereotypical characterizations of sharks in the media that promote fear and loathing. In reality, our chances of being attacked by a shark are very small compared to other dangers. It’s estimated that for every fatal shark attack, up to 25 million sharks are killed by humans. Fatalities due to sharks average less than one person per year in the United States and are usually due to mistaken identity. Swimmers and surfers appear similar in shape to seals, sea lions, and turtles -- the primary diet of some sharks -- when seen from below.


half shark cutout facing leftWashington state has played a key role in the protection of sharks and is one of ten states that have banned the sale and trade of shark fin products. But there is still an urgent need for responsible management and monitoring at the national, regional, and international levels to prevent the extinction of shark species. Tell your representatives in Congress that you want stronger laws protecting sharks.


...but don't take our word for it! To learn more about sharks and meet our sharks up close, stop by the South Pacific Aquarium or register for your own Eye-to-Eye Shark Dive.

Shark Conservation Updates

Some exciting progress over the past year:

June 2015
Texas becomes the 10th US State to ban the sale of shark fin products joining Washington, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and Massachusetts.

November 2014
– 21 species of sharks and rays were added to the Appendices of the Conservation on Migratory Species. With these listings, member countries agreed to grant strict protection to nine devil ray species, five sawfish species, and the reef manta, as well as committed to work internationally to conserve three species of thresher sharks, two types of hammerheads, and the silky shark.

September 2014
– U.S. President Barack Obama signed a memorandum to expand a vast marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will become the largest network of oceanic protected areas in the world covering 490,000 square miles. The memorandum bans commercial fishing, deep-sea mining and other extraction of underwater resources in the area.


You can help save sharks

  • Talk to your friends and family about sharks. Tell people that sharks are awesome and you’re more likely to die from hitting a deer than from a shark bite.
  • Never buy shark fin soup, shark cartilage pills, or souvenirs like shark jaws.
  • Join us and make a contribution to shark conservation.
  • Help end shark finning. Washington State banned this gruesome practice. Tell your representatives in Congress that you want strong federal laws protecting sharks.
  • Use your Seafood Watch card or phone app to choose sustainably harvested seafood, a practice that avoids the unintended capture of sharks.

more to explore

Discovery’s Save the Sharks
Videos and information on protecting shark populations.

Fins Attached
Conducting research, promoting conservation, and providing education for the protection of marine ecosystems.

Project AWARE Foundation
A growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet – one dive at a time.

Washington State’s Shark Fin Law
The Washington State law on the ban on the sale of shark fins and shark fin derivatives.

Shark Identification in Washington State
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife identifies sharks and shark relatives in Puget Sound.

Seafood Watch
This program from Monterey Bay Aquarium helps consumers and businesses make responsible seafood choices for healthy oceans.

Ichthyology at the Florida Museum of Natural History

Shark and fish history and biology information as well as the International Shark Attack File.