July 14, 2019
By Sarah McClain, Communication Intern
While sharks may have a bad reputation for being mean, they are actually wonderful creatures in need of our protection to survive. Today is Shark Awareness Day and we’d like to dive into what makes these animals so incredible and how we plan to protect them!
Did you know that there are over 1,000 types of sharks? The Akron Zoo is home to three species; the whitespotted bamboo shark, the brownbanded bamboo shark and the chain dogfish which is also known as the chain catshark. These sharks are on the smaller end with the biggest of the three, the brownband bamboo shark measuring around three feet long. Since sharks can be one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet, let’s break down some common myths about them!
Myth: Sharks are at the top of the food chain and have no predators.
Fact: While they don’t have many predators, sharks, even great white sharks, have been killed by orcas (killer wales), though their biggest predator is humans.
Myth: Sharks are very dangerous and will attack humans for food.
Fact: Sharks much prefer fish to people and in 2017 there were only 53 confirmed attacks and one fatality. The odds of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067.
Myth: Sharks are very big!
Fact: Some sharks, like the great white shark, are roughly 15 feet long, while others, like the whitespotted bamboo shark are only about 19 inches long.
Helping Save a SAFE Species
The Association and Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) created SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) to help zoos, aquariums and animal lovers alike to raise funding and resources to help protect species at risk of extinction. The objective is to create measurable goals to reach within three years that help with funding, conservation and engagement.
Sharks are listed as one of the 21 SAFE species. This means that some types of sharks are at risk of extinction. The main reason behind the risk is overfishing. Some cultures use shark fins in soups and eat shark meat. Over time this can diminish a population and lead to them becoming endangered or extinct. The current state of the shark population depends on the breed but some, such as the angelshark, are listed as critically endangered and are most at risk.
Your Akron Zoo has some other SAFE species as well like the African lion, jaguar and red wolf.
If you want to get involved to help save sharks you can donate to a conservation effort (such as AZA SAFE), volunteer at the Akron Zoo or come visit us in person! The price of admission at your Akron Zoo helps fund our conservation projects.
Come meet our sharks in their habitats located in Komodo Kingdom and Curious Creatures!