These threatened species, in this case, endangered sharks, have evolved for millions of years, survived five mass extinctions, global catastrophes of epic proportions, global warming, ice ages, super volcanoes, and climate change.
But it seems the one thing to tip these endangered sharks over the edge, is humans: the world’s most evasive species.
I don’t always believe in preaching fire and brimstone or doom and gloom. That hardly ever inspires change. I can talk about how our greed and lack of farsightedness are harming our planet and, maybe ultimately, the future of our own race. We already know that disrupting a MAJOR link in the ocean food chain can lead to certain destruction.
But we do nothing.
We know that the algae and plankton in the oceans produce more oxygen and soaks up more CO2, than all the trees and forests in the world combined. And we know that killing all the sharks will eliminate the main predator of the fish that eat the plankton and algae, meaning the natural balance would be eliminated. And our main CO2 scrubbers and oxygen emitters wiped out.
But we aren’t generally bothered.
We humans love doom and gloom. Zombie apocalypses, killer asteroids, plagues, Mayan calendar, Y2K… We all love end-of-the-world scenarios. So preaching doom and gloom won’t faze anyone. No one will get passionate about saving the planet from some far-off possibility.
My idea is that to get people inspired about something important, is to make it personal and appeal to their emotions. It’s not all my idea though. Jacques Cousteau once said, and I’m paraphrasing; “in order for someone to save something, first they must love it“. So there you go.
By showing you these awesome and interesting and strange rare sharks, hopefully, some of you can grow a little bit of love or maybe even develop a serious passion for them.
It just might work too, because let’s face it, how can you look at some of these faces and not fall in love!?
Here is a list of 9 sharks of the most critically endangered species on Earth.
9 Critically Endangered Sharks Worth loving
The first critically endangered fish on the list is the Pondicherry shark, which is a species of requiem shark. I put this on the list because it’s actually not clear whether this shark is critically endangered, or already extinct. There hadn’t been an officially recorded sighting since 1979 until this specimen was recently discovered…
Unfortunately for the pointy-nosed Pondicherry, their territory was known to be in the coastal waters from the Gulf of Oman to New Guinea, which even now is a murderer’s row for sharks and any other profitable marine life. If it is still extant, poor Pondi would be threatened by heavy and unregulated fishing throughout its range.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Pondicherry as a Critically Endangered shark and placed a high priority on locating any surviving populations, but considering the horribly unregulated commercial fishing in the regions, there isn’t a lot of hope for the future of the species of Pondicherrys, even if it’s not already extinct.
The Ganges is another species of requiem shark found only in the Ganges and Brahmaputra River of India and Bengal Bay area. It is sometimes mistaken for the more famous bull shark, but unlike the far-ranging bulls, the Ganges stays in its range and is a true river shark. I find this unfortunate, considering its home is now one of the most polluted and crowded rivers in the world, that’s also crisscrossed in gill nets. The endangered Ganges shark is overfished for its fins and jaw, haring a dreadful fate with the also critically endangered Ganges river dolphin.
In 2001 the Indian government put a ban on killing sharks, but it’s believed there is zero enforcement. A 10-year survey was conducted but only a few Ganges sharks were found. Luckily or not, shark fins and jaws in Asian fish markets have been confirmed as from the Ganges sharks, meaning that its probably extant, but that it’s still being killed.
New Guinea or Northern river shark
The Northern River Shark was only discovered in Australia in 1986, and only 36 specimens have been recorded here since. Yet another of these rare river sharks and species of the requiem sharks, and its closes relative being the very similar Speartooth Shark, The Northern River Shark’s only known territories are a small number of locations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Papua New Guinea.
Like other river sharks, it is believed they have an extra sense that we don’t have, one that senses the electric fields of other animals, because of their tiny eyes and the brackish water they live in.
Though this shark is listed as a critically endangered shark, this one might just have some hope of survival. It is possible that, because of its remote habitats, that many more than the few that have been recorded, exist.
Irrawaddy river shark
Sadly I think I am too late to save this shark. Scientists and biologists didn’t even know it existed until a single specimen was caught at the mouth of the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar in the 19th century. Scientists even thought for the longest time that it was a deformed bull shark or another kind of river shark. But in 2005 shark systematist Leonard Compagno recognized it as a distinct member of the genus Glyphis.
We have no idea the history of this shark since only one has ever been found, and it’s also dead. They haven’t declared it extinct yet, but there’s no real hope. Gillnetting, line, and electrofishing have a serious impact on the other rare shark species of the region, so they are surely to blame for the demise (or pending?) of the Irrawaddy river shark.
Natal Shy shark
Another Rare shark under threat from habitat degradation and commercial fishing, the Natal shy shark has been assessed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Natal shy shark is similar to the puffadder shy shark in appearance but has a stockier body, less flattened head, a compressed caudal peduncle, and a different color pattern. It’s so close in appearance in fact, that only in 2006 was it declared its own species.
The KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa is the shark’s only known habitat, an area of less than 40 square miles. The shy sharks are so named because they curl into a ring and cover their eyes with their tails when threatened. Now, how cute must that be?! The locals call this guy “Happy Chappie”
Daggernose sharks, getting to around 1.5 meters long, with their flattened snouts and relatively large fins, are the only members of their genus. Their range is from around Trinidad and Tobago down to Eastern Brazil. Once again, overfishing is the main threat to this rare shark. Although most fishermen aren’t targeting these sharks directly, they are caught in nets intended for other species. Studies conducted in Brazil in the 1990s found that daggernose sharks comprised as much as 10 percent of regional fish catches. The rate of fishing combined with the shark’s slow reproductive rate has caused dramatic population declines.
A 2002 study found that populations had dropped more than 90 percent over the previous decade. Just like the other endangered sharks in this list, I searched for conservation prgrams or air projects for the daggernose, but fond nothing. And just like the rest, couldn’t even find a real photo of one besides this depiction of one from a scientific study in 1839. These sharks need our help for sure.
There are many kinds of smooth hound sharks, but the stripped one, ranging from Argentina and Southern Brazil, is critically endangered.
Again, overfishing, mainly from trawling and long lining, in the sharks small territory, is helping speed up its demise. Dragging heavy trawling nets along the bottom and scraping up everything in its path, is not only directly killing the sharks as bycatch, but also destroying their limited breeding grounds, nurseries and hunting territories.
Their main food is shrimp and mollusk, the main target for trawlers. By surveying trawlers and fishers in Uruguay and Northern Argentina, scientists say the stripped smoothhound shark has decreased by 96% between 1994 and 1999, with no more regulation or relief for them since. Trawling and long lining and gill net fishing continue almost entirely without restriction, regardless of the odd law here and there. This beautiful and rare shark, just like all the others, need a sanctuary where they can come back. in the US where critically endangered species were protected and given sanctuary, the populations have come back. We know it can work.
Sawback Angel Shark
There are a few types of angel sharks, the name referring to its large pectoral fins that stretch wide, like wings. Sadly the sawback is another shark on the list of endangered animals, again from overfishing and encroachment. Its territory ranges from the Mediterranean sea and eastern Atlantic, from Italy to Angola. Sadly this beautiful shark is highly susceptible to trawling because it spends a lot of time buried in the sand waiting for food. It’s not a desired or useful shark to humans, but it is still a by-catch and numbers are dangerously low.
Sadly the only areas in this critically endangered shark’s territory that are protected are around Spanish islands like Lanzarote. Sightings in the Mediterranean and Western Africa are extremely rare now, making it likely that sawback will become extinct in the wild if we don’t find a solution to long lining and trawling
Smooth back angel shark
Another species of angle shark that is on the verge of extinction. This species is part of an evolutionary chain dating back over 350 million years, and we decided to kill it off within our existence. Sadly, since these rare sharks on this list are hard to spot in the wild, let alone photograph, I either couldn’t find photos, or they are photos or videos from sharks in aquariums or research stations, such as below.
“The mistake we make, then, either in seeking to destroy sharks or in not caring if we inadvertently destroy them, is one of cosmic stupidity. If I have one hope, it is that we will come to appreciate and protect those wonderful creatures before we manage, through ignorance, stupidity, and greed, to wipe them out altogether.” -Peter Benchley, Author of “Jaws”