Say Goodbye To Sharks Forever

Say Goodbye To Sharks Forever

#SaveTheSharks
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In recent years, humans have become the top predators of the ocean, hunting shark populations into rapid decline on a global scale and near extinction. This is done through a process called shark-finning, a pretty straightforward term for exactly what is happening to these poor creatures.

After the fins are cut off of a shark, it is thrown back into the water still alive, and sinks to the bottom where it will die since it can’t continue to swim. Its a monstrosity of abuse and inhumane action.

Sharks are able to stable their buoyancy through their pectoral fins, oily livers, and the shape of their powerful tails. The aerodynamics of their caudal fin forces their bodies downward in water, while their pectoral fins act as wings to lift them back up. Using these adaptations specialized for their lifestyle in water, as well as their extremely oily livers, sharks are able to manage their buoyancy and stay alive.

When sharks are finned, they can no longer move forward, and end up dying on the ocean floor as other fish come along to eat them. Although they are in water, their gills require a flow of water over them, which sharks usually handle with ram ventilation and their movement through the ocean. Now, they are unable to breathe and only go through what I can only assume is an excruciatingly painful drowning and death (sometimes due to blood loss as well).

The reasons for the temptations of shark fin are due to their monetary value and popularity as a luxury dish in Chinese culture. Shark fin soup is a “symbol of status” (ocean.si.edu) and proves human predatory power over these brilliant animals. Its a custom to have shark fin soup at official ceremonies, banquets, and family celebrations. A shark fin can sell for up to $500 a pound, whereas a sharks total lifetime worth is around $1.6 million…only to be chopped up into a cup for a bowl of soup.

The numbers are astounding: as many as “73 million sharks end up in the global shark fin trade every year,” (usa.oceana.org). And it doesn’t stop there, sharks are “K-selected” species, meaning they are slow to reproduce, live long lives, and have a higher potential of going extinct. “Today, some shark populations have decreased by 60-70% due to human shark fisheries,” (ocean.si.edu). This has resulted in 18 species of sharks being listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (sea shepherd.org). This is action that can all be prevented and there are other solutions we can set forth in order to harvest these animals in a sustainable, humane way.

These actions therefore cause even greater distress on whole populations; as shark (predator) rates decrease, rays (prey) populations increase. In turn, rays eat more and more of their diets (scallops, clams, bivalves) and this causes a ripple effect which leads all the way back to the autotrophs of the ecosystem.

Fortunately, some progress has been made. In June of 2016, the United States initiated the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act, making it illegal to trade shark fins. Even with this banning, there is still buying and selling of the fins throughout the U.S., but work is being done to make this problem more prominent. In 22 countries there have been domestic regulations on shark finning and “China [has been working] to decrease the cultural value of fins, [with] the Chinese government prohibiting the serving of shark fin soup at official banquets in 2012,” (ocean.si.edu). Its a slow start, but a start nonetheless.

Some solutions to shark finning consist of capturing sharks whole, taking them to land, and using their entire body so none goes to waste, increasing shark fin regulations and banning, lowering the number of fishermen and hunting licenses for sharks in the oceans (although this may have a negative effect due to money hunting brings in for wildlife through licenses, etc), and educating yourself on the dangers of shark-finning. Much like the ivory trade, it is something so developed into culture and a status of wealth that it is hard to slow down until it is too late. Tolls are already being taken on shark populations and we need to implement this knowledge into our actions as human beings.

For now, all I can do is spread awareness. But this is what I will devote my life to, becoming a wildlife biologist and conserving, sustaining, and managing species, populations, and ecosystems. I will make a difference, no matter how small, and it will be the greatest thing I ever do.

#SaveTheSharks

Cover Image Credit: bawabali.com

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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5 Ways We Can Help Protect Marine Life That Will Make You Say 'Shell-Yeah'

It is serious!

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Marine mammals such as dolphins, whales, and seals have captured the hearts of millions of people all over the world. But if we're not careful about how we treat their environment, they may not be around for much longer.

Here are some ways you can help protect our marine life friends!

1. Be beach-friendly. 

Whether you are at the beach to surf, swim, or just relax, always clean up after yourself. Explore and appreciate the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks or coral. If you really want to make a difference, start patrolling the beach area, and help pick up any trash you see lying around. Maybe even see if you can gather a group of people who will do it with you!

Also, don't take wild fish or hermit crabs away from their homes! They're not likely to live very long if they're taken away from their natural habitat. Also, never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water- a practice that can be very harmful to them.

2. Use fewer plastic products. 

Plastic can end up as ocean debris, which contributes to habitat destruction and entangles and kills tens of thousands of marine animals each year.

Many marine animals (such as sea turtles) mistake plastic waste for a viable food source, sometimes causing blockages in their digestive system. Though the declining sea turtle populations in oceans are due to a variety of reasons, plastic pollution plays a significant role. They eat things like jellyfish and are very likely to mistake a plastic straw for a jellyfish snack.

Also, don't ever release balloons- just pop them and throw them out. If you release them, they are a danger to marine wildlife who can accidentally swallow them because they mistook them for food.

3. Limit activities that can alter an animal's environment. 

Worldwide, dolphins face a variety of impacts that threaten their very existence- most of which are impacts of human activities. In recent history, the Yangtze river dolphin was declared extinct due to its river habitat being obstructed by the building of dams and the invasion of boat traffic.

When you are in the animals' natural habitat, be careful not to leave behind or do anything that could cause serious harm to their environment. Clean up after yourselves, and don't leave behind fishing wires, hooks, trash, or anything else.

4. Advocate for oil spill clean-up. 

Going along with the above statement, oil spills can be caused not only by equipment breaking down but also by people making mistakes or just being careless. Oil spills into rivers, oceans, and bays are often caused by accidents involving tankers, pipelines, storage facilities, drilling rigs, refineries, and barges.

Most oils float, so the animals most affected sea otters and sea birds that are found on the sea surface or on shorelines if the oil comes ashore. During most oil spills, seabirds are harmed and killed in greater numbers than any other kinds of creatures. If heavy oils get into the feathers of birds, they may die of hypothermia for losing their ability to keep themselves warm. This same effect is observed with sea otters. Sea otters can easily be harmed by oil since their ability to stay warm depends on their fur remaining clean. When oil remains on the beach for a while, other creatures, such as snails, clams, and terrestrial animals may suffer too.

Many light oils, such as gasoline and diesel, are considered to be toxic. They can kill animals or plants and they are also dangerous to humans who breathe their fumes or get it on their skin.

Go online to learn more about oil spills, and what you can do to help!

5. Lesson your carbon footprint. 



Because of ocean acidification, global warming has been a hot topic in the ocean world. When acidity of the ocean increases, it can cause devastating impacts on marine life, including plankton, corals, shellfish, and the animals that eat them.

The vast majority of the air we breathe comes from the oceans. That's why we say "if the oceans die, we die."


Marine mammals like the vaquita dolphin (only 30 left in existence due to illegal fishing in the Gulf of California) are not much different than humans. They know when they are in trouble, and they get scared.

Start researching online today to see how you can help!

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