Why are Sharks Endangered? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Sure, sharks can be scary, but they're an important part of the ocean's ecosystems! Come and learn about the different reasons why they're an endangered species in this lesson.

Sharks Aren't All Bad

Let's be honest - sharks don't exactly have the best reputation among us human folk. Most of us are somewhat afraid of them, and there are even some people who have official phobias of sharks, which is known as galeophobia. While sharks can be dangerous to humans (you should definitely avoid swimming close to one if you can help it), they actually do a lot of good for the ocean's ecosystems. As one of the top predators of the sea, we need sharks in order to keep the food chain alive and balanced.

Unfortunately, this isn't enough to change many people's minds about sharks. Generally speaking, people will go to extra lengths to make sure they don't meet up with a shark while taking a dip in the ocean. This is one of the reasons why sharks are an endangered species. Some of the more popular beaches will set up baited drum lines to keep the sharks away from the swimmers. Baited drum lines are traps in the ocean with bait on the end of hooks. While they aren't meant to harm the sharks, many of them end up dying this way.

Fishing, Fishing Everywhere

Can you imagine what it would be like to go fishing for a shark? Sounds kind of crazy, right? Well, believe it or not, people do this! Also, sometimes sharks end up getting caught in large nets that are put in the water by commercial fishermen. While these nets are typically intended for other kinds of fish (like tuna, red snapper or other kinds of fish people typically eat), sharks can get caught up in them as well. This is known as bycatch. Other times, sharks are intentionally caught - both legally and illegally!

Fishing is a threat to sharks.
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As if the sharks didn't have it hard enough, fishing for other kinds of fish can ultimately lead to the death of a shark. Think about it - what do sharks eat? Fish! So, if large amounts of the fish that they eat are caught, then the sharks don't have enough to eat. Like all living things, they need food to survive!

Other Forms of Endangerment

Okay, so this next threat to sharks is pretty disturbing. Did you know that shark fins are the most valuable part of a shark? The meat is pretty inexpensive; therefore, some people participate in shark finning, which is when sharks are caught and their fins are cut off! Their bodies are thrown back into the ocean where they sink to the bottom and are eaten by other fish. While shark finning is illegal in many places, it still happens sometimes.

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