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The World Oceans Now 70% Shark Free 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-can-use-a-smaller-boat dept.
wheresjim writes "According to a study published in The Proceedings of The Royal Society, the world's oceans are now about 70% shark free. This is a bad sign for the sharks, the oceans and of course, journalists during slow news cycles."
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The World Oceans Now 70% Shark Free

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  • by Janek Kozicki (722688) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:05AM (#14783019) Journal
    Nothing for you to see here, please move along

    70% appropriate.
  • I think this means it is time for a half-jaws, half-free willy environmentalists movie. in the spirit of free willy, michael jackson will obviously be chosen for the theme. i see the theme as being, itself, a cross between "beat it" and "don't stop til you get enough." it's probably not a coincidence that this also seems to be his take on children.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:06AM (#14783025)
    I am shocked to hear this kind of pro-shark fascism being spewed on Slashdot. As we all know, sharks are vile, evil creatures who are a danger and threat to all life and liberty.

    Why do you hate America?
  • by yobjob (942868) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:06AM (#14783027)
    Are circling around Australian beaches.
  • Bad news? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is a bad sign for the [...] journalists during slow news cycles.
    Unless, of course, this is slashdot, and they can report on bad signs for real journalists...
  • By volume? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Toba82 (871257) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:08AM (#14783030) Homepage
    Does this mean that the ocean is 30% sharks by volume? I AM NEVER SWIMMING AGAIN!
    • by jamesh (87723)
      Worse than that, the polar ice melting is exactly balancing out the extinction of sharks. If we didn't have global warming, you'd have to travel much further to go to the beach!!!

      Or maybe we could just wring out all the sponges that are sitting at the bottom of the ocean.
    • Or is it just that sharks are 70% smaller than they used to be?
  • ... our waters are now 70% shark free! We are now the safest planetary water park in the galaxy for your children! Come now and get 20% off your water slide pass!

    Offer only valid in the next 10 minutes.
  • by GrpA (691294) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:10AM (#14783035)
    Because if it is, that means that the Oceans are now 30% shark, 70% water... Not a good mix. GrpA
  • Batman! (Score:5, Funny)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:10AM (#14783038) Homepage Journal
    I blame Batman for dumping his anti-shark-spray into the ocean.

    (if you get that joke you're really old)
    • if you get that joke you're really old

      Thanks for reminding me.

    • Video [google.com].
    • I saw that movie at the Alamo Drafthouse [drafthouse.com] a couple years ago. After the movie, my friend turns to me and says, "so, were they trying to be funny on purpose?" My other buddy and I just pointed at him and laughed.

      "This solemn moment..." pure genius
      -l

      • Yeah, they were being funny on purpose. I guess the idea of the "Hollywood suits" was that Batman was a comic, hence a cartoon, so if you bring it to life with live-action actors, you were appealing to kids at a serious level, but you made it kind of campy-humorous to hold the attention of the adults who had to take their kids to the thing.

        My guess is that the suits didn't realize how campy and unserious they had made it. The sort of comic book Batman as Dark Avenger (I mean hey, the character is a vigi

    • I've never been able to decide which is the most awesome part of that video.

      1. That he has premade shark repellant (with Bat(r) branding!)
      2. Along with 3 other kinds of repellant (good thing it wasn't a Squid attack)
      3. Robin taking his sweet time getting down the ladder
      4. The rubber innertube sound the shark makes when Batman hits it
      5. The fact that the shark explodes when it hits the water (
      Most shows have a point where they jump the shark. Batman was one of the few where the shark was doing the j
  • Yes but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sirnuke (866453) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:14AM (#14783047) Homepage
    What was the percentage in recent years? Assuming the trend is decreasing amount of sharks, how fast is it going? If ten years ago, the sharks percentage was decreasing at .0025/year, but now it's .005/year, that's probably really bad. If now the rate is now .001/year, that's more or less a good thing. At the highest point, what percentage of the ocean had sharks?

    Kind of like having a 50% off sale without saying what the original or final price is. Sounds great...

    Graphs are really nice.
    • Re:Yes but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:36AM (#14783113)
      The summary misinterpreted the article (yeah, BIG surprise). They haven't found 70% of the ocean is NOW shark-free. They have found that, all along, sharks only inhabit about 30% of the available ocean regions.

      What the study found was that below a certain depth (2000 metres) there appear to be no shark species, even though the typical shark prey extend down to much deeper than that. So, while the researchers had assumed that sharks would move throughout the water column, and more species of depth-loving sharks would be found, none were below about 2000m.

      This means that all current known shark species exist in only 30% of the total ocean volume (over 70% being below that 2000m depth). Which means that they are all in close proximity to humans and human fishing activity. Which means that they may be more susceptible to overfishing of that area, since they seem unable to spread to lower ocean levels (the so-called abyssal region) to find more food sources. The linked article suggests that there might be a lack of food sources at lower depths, but another summary I saw mentioned the presence of fish species below this depth - which might indicate that either the fish are in too low a number to sustain the sharks; the sharks are incapable of going to the lower depths due to physiology; or they can't compete with other predator species at those depths (eg. squid?).

      Of course, other studies have indeed shown declining shark populations, and decreasing sizes of adult sharks of various species (such as white pointers and whale sharks) which indicates that there is increasing pressure on shark populations by overfishing of both them and their food sources... but this study didn't look at that.
      • or they can't compete with other predator species at those depths (eg. squid?).

        Whoa, shark competing with squids at 2000m depth! I bet it's cold down there. Maybe it can qualify for a 2010 Winter Olympics event!!
        • Re:Yes but... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Grab (126025)
          Whales and squid regularly do serious depths, and are presumed (from the evidence of scars on dead whales and squid parts inside dead whales) to fight each other. Not sure quite why - maybe for a whale, a squid is like a 50-foot fishburger, so it's worth the hassle?

          Grab.
  • Bad for all of us (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:14AM (#14783050) Homepage Journal
    This is a bad sign for the sharks, the oceans and of course, journalists during slow news cycles.

    Actually, if some shark species are threatened by extinction, that is bad news for all of us.

    The savage overexploatation of our oceans is a terrible shame. I get furious when I read about EU subsedies keeping huge Spanish and British fishing fleets running.
    • Re:Bad for all of us (Score:4, Informative)

      by aug24 (38229) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:25AM (#14783078) Homepage
      Please ensure your facts are at least vaguely right!

      About a minutes googling confirms that the Spanish fleet gets over half of the total EU fishing subsidy, while the British fleet gets about 5%.

      (Incidentally, British waters contain about 40% of the fish. I (am English and) reckon we should quit the EU ASAP.)

      Apart from that, I agree with you.

      Justin.
      • by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:03AM (#14783199)
        Sure, but what about the poor Austrian fishermen? Why aren't you taking them into consideration with your "facts"?
        • by tomrud (471930) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:46AM (#14783300)
          > Sure, but what about the poor Austrian fishermen? Why aren't you taking them into consideration with your "facts"?

          We should encurage them to get new jobs. In the Austrian Navy for example.

        • You laugh but in a world where Switzerland can win the America's Cup anything is possible.

          As for the original question it's illl-informed rubbish. British fishing fleets, on which I have worked, are being shut down at an unprecedented rates and the chances of a resurgence in numbers is about as likely as Satan going to work on a snowplough.

          The main culprits are the large international factory fleets that catch indiscriminately and with little regard for local regulations. These are aided and abetted but
      • Regardless of subsidies, from what I've read on the BBC's web site, the British fishing fleet has been catching fish at unsustainable levels for decades. It seems that in every country, the fishermen say the scientists are wrong and everything is A-OK, until they catch the last fish and wonder what happened to their fisheries.
        • I agree completely. It actually reminds me of people who buy gas to drive to work for 30 odd years, till it suddenly triples in price and people start wondering what happened to all the damn oil.

          Replace oil with any limited resource (land, water, beaches, hardwoods, ivory).

          Would be easier if we just ran out of people.
        • Absolutely true. There is so much evidence (decreasing size of fish in catch, fewer shoals) that the 'but there must be loads, we never have any problem finding them' line is wearing very thin.

          I vote we ban fish-finder technologies from all EU waters.

          Justin.
  • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:14AM (#14783051)
    Apparently not, as they can just write another story about how there are fewer sharks than before.
  • The ones that are left obviously ate the ones in the other 70%.

  • If I recall... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bobzibub (20561) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:25AM (#14783077)
    100 Million per year are caught.

    http://www.bigmarinefish.com/sharks.html [bigmarinefish.com]

    Da da. Da da. Da da.....

    (Sorry sharkies.)
    • you forgot it in the length of time that it took you to get the link, read it, AND then post it. So that is not really a case of IIRC.
      • ...that the GP didn't know of that link before he read this article. There's a possibility the link was in his bookmarks and he had infact read the relevant information much prior, thus incurring a need to "recall correctly".
  • by Ksisanth (915235) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:33AM (#14783104)

    See online journals of the Royal Society [royalsoc.ac.uk] -- it can be found under Proceedings of the Royal Society B:Biological Sciences titled "The absence of sharks from abyssal regions of the world's oceans".

    We propose that they are excluded from the abyss by high-energy demand, including an oil-rich liver for buoyancy, which cannot be sustained in extreme oligotrophic conditions. . . . All populations are therefore within reach of human fisheries, and there is no hidden reserve of chondrichthyan biomass or biodiversity in the deep sea.
    • I have an idea... why don't we melt the polar icecaps so that the sharks have more space to swim around in. Wouldn't that increase the 70% to 75% or so? Clearly we must persue this goal.
  • by Shag (3737) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:47AM (#14783146) Homepage
    While sharks, as apex predators, are a good indicator of overall biodiversity / availability of tasty biomass in the oceans, figures on some other species are probably at least as alarming.

    I've seen (at things like the UN informal consultative process on oceans and the law of the sea, and the 3rd global conference on oceans, coasts and islands just last month) presentations showing fisheries catch decade-by-decade worldwide, and the trends are just plain scary.

    So many things are being done in totally unsustainable ways that popular tasty species have come close to being wiped out over large areas. Cod around Canada, for example. Tuna in some other areas.

    I like tasty fish and don't want them to all go away. (Yes, here I am subscribing to sustainability defined as "making sure your grandkids get to hunt Bambi, too.")
    • Now would be a good time to learn to live without seafood. Granted, this isn't an option in nations where fish is a common staple in everyone's diet . . .

      Fisherman can either stop fishing now or stop later when there are none left to catch. Fish farms or bust.
      • Alternately, people could just eat the fish that's actually found near where they live. It'd be fresher and in most cases better for them. Of course, that does mean no Tuna for Nebraska. So sorry.
      • Wild Alaskan salmon tastes a bit like shrimp. This is unsurprising, because they eat krill. (krill is like shrimp)

        Farmed salmon taste a bit like corn. Hmmm. Any guess why that might be?
      • Fish farms or bust.

        There's a problem there... most fish farms don't raise fish the way cattle ranches raise cattle. Cattle ranches have a stable population and breed more young from that population, plus trading breeding males and females (usually males) with other cattle ranches. It's a mostly self-contained system.

        Most fish farms catch wild juvenile fish of whatever species out at sea in huge nets, corrals them in some coastal area, and then feed them until they get to an appropriate size.

        You can see wher
    • My own pet project, which will likely never happen, to preserve biodiversity...

      Cordon off a large area of ocean, certainly >100 sq mi, likely at least 10 times that. Ideally that area would straddle the continental shelf too, I would guess. Within that area, NO FISHING, and enforce with lethal means, if necessary. Fish right along the borders, but no fishing inside, whatsoever.

      I think it would work, though I'm probably lowballing the required area. But I suspect the real problems are political. The area
      • ...it's called a "Marine Protected Area" (MPA). See http://www.mpa.gov/ [mpa.gov]
      • Cordon off a large area of ocean, certainly >100 sq mi, likely at least 10 times that. Ideally that area would straddle the continental shelf too, I would guess.

        Do you have any conception of just how astoundingly large the ocean is? An area 10 miles to a side would be a pretty pitiful "large area". There are cities that are bigger than 100^2 miles! You could section off an area 1 million^2 miles and not have an appreciable effect on commerce or travel, but would provide for liebensraum for the fishies.

        'C
    • I like tasty fish and don't want them to all go away. (Yes, here I am subscribing to sustainability defined as "making sure your grandkids get to hunt Bambi, too.")

      I live in Arkansas. Though I'm not a hunter, this is something that has be recongized a long time by the Arkansas Hunters & Fishers. There would be no deer in the state if it wasn't for the conservatation programs of those that want to hunt them. Of course there wouldn't be millions of cows if there wasn't some one willing to pay to raise the
      • I totally agree. Oft-conservative outdoorsmen and oft-liberal environmentalists make strange, strange bedfellows, but they both recognize the importance of keeping natural resources (at least the edible ones) around for future generations.
  • Lazers (Score:2, Funny)

    by SecureTheNet (915798)
    Looks like the sharks with lasers on their heads are slowly taking over.
  • Now that's a short "article".

    It doesn't even tell how shark free the oceans were before human influences.
  • Bad reporting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bm_luethke (253362) <luethkebNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:51AM (#14783159)
    I can't tell much of anything from this report.

    It's 70% free compared to what? I don't know. As we explore the depths - do we have any baseline to compare too or is this normal? One possible explaination - what are the others? How good are the others?

    The article cited is so horrid on this I can't get worked up over it. I have no idea what the 70% means, is this compared to known baselines or less than someone somewhere expected, or is it something else?

    I suspect that the original scientific article would clear much of this up, but the report quoted is about as horrid as one can get. I'm not sure if you tried you get any less informed from this. Maybe it has dire ecological warnings - but all I can get is "Someone somewhere thinks something might not be what they expect but have never observed" - which isn't much to get worried over.

    At least it didn't make the front page of slashdot.
    • Re:Bad reporting (Score:5, Informative)

      by panaceaa (205396) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @06:05AM (#14783342) Homepage Journal
      It's 70% free compared to what?

      Only the Slashdot artcile has the "Now 70% Free" spin.

      Once I noticed this and reread the article, it made a lot more sense -- but it's still a crap article. There's no mention of who the international team of scientists that conducted the study are, and therefore no connection with the scientist quoted and the study. It seems as if the quoted scientist used his opportunity to be quoted in an article to express concern about a real problem, overfishing, without actually knowing about the study itself. Unfortunately the writer took this spin and put it into the opening paragraph and completely threw off the importance of the study.

      What really seems to have been discovered is that there aren't sharks 5,280 feet below sea-level. The original study suspects this is because there's no fish to eat down there, which is a pretty obvious fact considering there's no light down there and very high water pressure. And considering 70% of the world's ocean mass is below 5,280 feet, therefore sharks are not in 70% of the ocean.
      • Re:Bad reporting (Score:3, Informative)

        by LarsWestergren (9033)
        What really seems to have been discovered is that there aren't sharks 5,280 feet below sea-level. The original study suspects this is because there's no fish to eat down there, which is a pretty obvious fact considering there's no light down there and very high water pressure.

        There ARE fish there, but not in enough numbers to sustain sharks. Check here [pbs.org], or even better, see David Attenburoughs fantastic series The Blue Planet [bbc.co.uk].
    • It just means that 70% of the world's water doesn't have sharks in it. Oddly enough, it's the same 70% that's too deep, dark, and empty of food animals to sustain sharks. The report basically says "sharks live where they can, don't live where they can't, and the habitable region of the water is 30% of the total volume."
      • Yes, you have it completely right, and the headline for this story is completely wrong because of the addition of the word "now". They are saying they can't find sharks below the depth of n-thousand feet, and that 70% of the ocean is > n-thousand feet. They postulate that sharks have not been able to populate these depths for whatever reason.

        The bad news for the sharks comes simply from the idea that they have nowhere to go. They can't go deeper to avoid fishing/environmental issues caused by or exacerb

  • Now they live in Lawyer offices.
  • Television shows have gotten 70% much better.
  • So lawyers play golf now instead of going on cruises. Who'd have guessed...
  • by Kredal (566494) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @06:16AM (#14783370) Homepage Journal
    "So long, and thanks for all the surfers"

    Keep an eye out for Vogons, people.
  • by unitron (5733) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @08:29AM (#14783625) Homepage Journal
    So does this decline mean that sharks have jumped the shark?

  • The oceans are 30% shark? Yipes.
  • by rpjs (126615) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @08:47AM (#14783663)
    That we aren't going to need a bigger boat after all.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @08:55AM (#14783684)
    In related news, 40% of the Earth's land area is infested with sharks. Scientists blame evolution while religious leaders said it was some god's punishment for something they hate and lots of people enjoy or something.
  • If 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by oceans and 30% of that is sharks, that must mean that 21% of the Earth is covered by SHARKS!
  • Scientists do not know why sharks are absent from the deep, but suggest one possible reason might be a lack of food

    Unlike people they move to where the food is?

    Sharks also have a high demand for oxygen too. How much oxygen is available in the water at those depths?
  • employed at law firms around the world.
  • Just another 30% to go, and we'll be finished with the Shark phase of Humanity's program to rid the planet of life.

    I believe the Rhino phase was next on the agenda?

  • When I clicked on the article for the reference I predicted a 75% of it coming from the UK and 90% chance coming from somewhere in Europe. I wonder why?
  • journalists during slow news cycles

    Actually, a study showed that during the year of the last big frenzy of shark attack stories, there were significantly fewer actual shark attacks and significantly more news stories about them than the previous year.

    If that trend holds, we can expect nothing but 24 hour shark attack coverage once sharks actually become extinct.

  • by arabagast (462679) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:02AM (#14784517) Homepage
    ... So the documentary-makers stick with sharks. Generally, their
    procedure is to scatter bleeding fish pieces around their boat, so as
    to infest the waters. I would estimate that the primary food source of
    sharks today is bleeding fish pieces scattered by people making
    documentaries. Once the sharks arrive, they are generally fairly
    listless. The general shark attitude seems to be: "Oh God, another
    documentary." So the divers have to somehow goad them into attacking,
    under the guise of Scientific Research. "We know very little about the
    effect of electricity on sharks," the narrator will say, in a deeply
    scientific voice. "That is why Todd is going to jab this Great White
    in the testicles with a cattle prod." The divers keep this kind of
    thing up until the shark finally gets irritated and snaps at them, and
    then they act as though this was a totally unexpected and very
    dangerous development, although clearly it is what they wanted all
    along.
                                    -- Dave Barry, "The Wonders of Sharks on TV"

    Seems like the documentary people has stopped feeding the sharks
  • I heard something on the Discovery channel not long ago... I don't remember the exact numbers, but the magnitudes are right: "Sharks kill about seven human beings a year. Humans kill 60 MILLION sharks a year."
  • Does this mean that 30% of the total volume of the ocean is sharks? Damn that is pretty scary.

    Maybe it is by weight........
  • Here, it is [agonist.org] The ocean does not have 70% less sharks than at some time in the past. The fact that sharks don't and cant live in the deep ocean, probably due to energy metabolism, is not new and their distribution in ocean waters is not new, its just that we don't have to guess any longer about where they do live.
  • After "Jaws" first came out, shark sales started to pick up. This was about the time the Japanese whaling ban kicked in, so whaling ships were being used to go after sharks (which is like using a sledgehammer to kill ants). Soon there was a glut of shark meat. It even started showing up in school lunch programs.

    Now it's rare again. Not clear why.

    If you haven't had shark, it's a tougher meat than trout or salmon. Try it broiled with lemon or lemon butter; don't overdo the sauces.

  • ... only 30% to go. Let's not slack off now ...

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