Dr. John A. Musick is to give the conference 'Of sharks and men: A Predatory Tale'

Nov 10, 2009

Dr. John A. Musick is to give the conference 'Of sharks and men: A Predatory Tale'

Over 38 million sharks are slaughtered just for their fins and it is estimated that 100 million are caught every year in the world’s fishing areas. On the other hand, out of the millions of humans that enter the sea every year, there are only 5 to 15 mortal accidents from shark attacks, as will be explained tomorrow in the Oceanogràfic (aquarium) by Dr. John A. Musick, one of the most important experts on these creatures that are seriously threatened by human activity.

The conference “Of sharks and men: A Predatory Tale” will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, at 6:00 pm in the Red Sea Auditorium. Dr. John A. Musick will thus begin the sixth edition of the “Oceanogràfic Tuesdays” conference cycle. The programme will be looking at the biology, conservation and management of shark populations, one of the zoological groups whose diversity and population have most decreased and which has some of the most serious implications for the proper balance of ecosystems.

In addition, at the same time as this sixth edition, an exhibition has been set up in collaboration with Protect the Sharks, with the aim of warning about the danger of extinction that over 100 million sharks face every year. The display is located in the Access Building to the Oceanogràfic and contains unique photographs, with pictures taken by some of the most important underwater photographers in the world.

“Sharks have been regarded with fear and loathing by countless generations of humans. The reasons for this apprehension have been based on ignorance, and misconception. Very occasional shark “attacks” on people have led to the widespread impression that most sharks are dangerous man-eaters.

In this respect, he explains that “less than 10% of shark attacks have been predatory in nature, where a large shark (usually bull, tiger, or white) attacks a human as a potential food source.

The vast majority of so called attacks have been shark bites where a smaller species of shark, in turbid water, has grabbed a bather’s hand or foot, mistaking it for a small fish or other prey organism. And in such situations the shark immediately releases its grasp and flees after realizing it has bitten something much larger than intended.

In his conference speech, the North American expert will also be explaining the great threat implied by uncontrolled fishing, since most sharks grow very slowly, mature late and have a small number of young. These demographic parameters result in a very slow natural rate of biological increase, and limited ability to respond to fishing pressure. The history of unregulated shark fisheries abounds with examples of rapid declines and ultimate collapse of populations.