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Protect Basking Sharks: Safeguard Ocean’s Gentle Giants from Extinction
Target: Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service
Goal: Protect the basking shark from extinction.
The world’s second largest shark is at risk of extinction. Spanning upwards of 35 feet and sporting a massive, gaping mouth, the basking shark may be mistaken as a fearsome predator.
Yet these gentle giants routinely become the prey of their most dangerous predators: human beings.
As a result, one of the world’s most majestic creatures finds its numbers shrinking drastically. In many parts of the world, no true protections exist for these disappearing animals.
Even recent glimpses of basking sharks’ enormous shadows underneath the waves have excited scientists and spurred an increased awareness of these migratory sharks, who enjoy ‘basking’ in warm waters and whose modest diet includes mostly plankton. Their sluggish, non-aggressive nature, however—along with their towering presence—makes these sea-faring animals vulnerable to hunters who kill and exploit them for their fins, hides, meat, and even their livers. The fins are especially valued as a primary component of foods like shark fin soup. Many of these sharks also fall victim to trawl nets.
Because of its slow breeding and reproduction rates, the basking shark faces a difficult road to recovery. While it is protected in a few regions, including parts of the eastern United States’ coastal waters, these imminently at-risk animals still have not been added to the United States endangered species list.
Sign the petition below to shield one of the world’s largest and most wondrous creatures from a perilous fate.
Dear Mr. Oliver,
Do we have an obligation to the living beings that have awed, amazed, and in many ways shaped our world? For decades, the United States has answered this question with a resounding yes through its implementation and support of the Endangered Species Act. Why, then, is one of the world’s largest sea-faring creatures—an animal deemed as ‘vulnerable’ by the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, the UCN Red List, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—not included on this critical list?
While the basking shark benefits from some protections in the Atlantic and Gulf regions, the sharks dwelling in the northern Pacific remain a ‘species of concern,’ according to your organization. Despite their peaceful nature, these marvelous 35-foot-long animals have been victimized by nets and plundered by hunters for nearly every part of their bodies. A sustained eradication campaign was even launched against them decades ago. With these challenges unrestrained, the basking shark has struggled to replenish its depleted ranks.
This tourist draw and scientific marvel needs aid and protection. Advocate for the basking shark’s future by enacting federal protections immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Care2
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