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Essential for a healthy ocean and for us

Sharks are beautiful animals that have roamed our oceans since before the time of dinosaurs. There are over 500 species of sharks, and each is a crucial part of complex and amazing ocean ecosystems.

for a healthy ocean

Sharks are the original reef stewards. They are top-level predators that help maintain a balance in the marine food web. They help strengthen fish populations by removing weak and sick individuals. Others scavenge or filter-feed, keeping the ocean healthy.

Threatened by overfishing
and unwanted capture (bycatch)

Sharks are specifically targeted for their meat and fins. They are also caught accidentally in nets, fishing lines, bottom trawlers and gillnets.

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. They can’t keep up with this level of human impact. In order to protect them and all the benefits they bring to the ocean, we invite you to join us in taking action.

Help us Save Sharks

Take the Pledge

I pledge to:

  • See sharks as amazing, awe-inspiring animals that are vital to a healthy ocean.
  • Educate myself, my friends and family by replacing shark stereotypes with my enthusiasm.
  • Support campaigns that address excessive and unsustainable fishing practices and insist on sustainability when I shop.
  • Respect Washington and nationwide laws that ban the sale of shark fin products and avoid the purchase of other shark based products.
  • Support and explore shark research and conservation initiatives.

Conservation Updates

Together, we can make change.

When humans work together, we can make change for good. Here’s the latest exciting progress.

December 2022
Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act is signed into law.
The law bans the selling, buying or possession of shark fins (and shark fin products) across the U.S., with limited exceptions. This bill was first introduced in November 2019.
April 2021
The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act is reintroduced in Congress. It would require a nation, which seeks to export shark, ray, and skate products to the U.S., to receive certification from NOAA that it has management and conservation policies in place that are comparable to those in the U.S.
This bill aims to level the playing field for U.S. fisheries and encourage other countries to support sustainable trade in sharks, skates and rays. It was first introduced in April 2019.
March 2018
Governor Inslee and the Washington State Legislature approve $300,000 to fund the Washington Animal Trafficking Act for 2018-2019.
This law bans the trafficking of products from 10 groups of endangered animals including sharks. The funding allows officers to inspect more cargo, expand the K-9 detection program, develop lab testing of evidence, and apprehend traffickers.
August 2016
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Hawaiian Islands becomes the largest ecologically protected area on the planet.
Measuring 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers), it's more than twice the size of Texas and is home to more than 7,000 marine species.
April 2016
Two PDZA divers travel to the Socorro Islands Biosphere Preserve off the coast of Mexico to help the nonprofit Fins Attached track sharks’ movements over time. The Zoo Society’s Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund paid for their travel expenses and donated acoustic tracking receivers.
Enough data was gathered for the Mexican government to expand the protected area around these islands to 57,000 square miles.
November 2015
Washington State voters pass Initiative 1401 banning the sale of 10 endangered animal products including sea turtles, sharks, and rays. The Metro Parks Tacoma Board endorsed this measure.
Staff members at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium collaborated with colleagues at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium to educate the public about the perils facing these endangered species.
June 2015
Texas becomes the 10th U.S. state to ban the sale of shark fin products.
It joins Washington, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and Massachusetts.
May 2015
Sharks and rays are listed as species in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' “Saving Animals From Extinction” (SAFE) program.
This focuses the collective expertise of accredited zoos and aquariums, including Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, on identifying the threats, developing action plans, raising new resources and engaging the public in saving sharks and rays.
The U.S. Shark Conservation Act passes.
This law closes loopholes requiring that all sharks must be brought to port with their fins attached.
The U.S. Shark Finning Prohibition Act passes.
This law bans shark finning on all US-flagged fishing vessels in international waters.

Take Action

I Heart Sharks
Shark pledge
Seafood Choices
Explore more

Meet our sharks!

See many species of sharks, including blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, nurse sharks, zebra sharks, epaulette and white-spotted bamboo sharks in the Tropical Reef Aquarium. And don’t miss our scalloped hammerheads in the Pacific Seas Aquarium!