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Jul 07.14

6 common shark myths debunked

Posted In: Ethical Campaigns

Think you know sharks? Think again!

Conventional media has made us afraid of sharks. In movies and TV shows, they’re portrayed as bloodthirsty monsters that are out to get us. However, these myths about sharks—their temperament, importance to the ecosystem and value to humans—are rampant and may be contributing to rapidly declining populations. To help you see the awesomeness of sharks, we’ve put together a few common shark myths, so you can get to know the truth behind these beautiful and important creatures.

MYTH: Sharks like to eat humans

No matter how many movies you’ve seen with killer shark attacks, the truth is sharks do not like to eat humans! (Seriously, we can’t stress that enough.) On the rare occasion that a shark attack has occurred, it’s usually because the shark has mistaken a human for its prey, or it’s just curious, which means using inquisitive bites to examine something unfamiliar.

MYTH: Sharks aren’t important

Some people believe that if sharks disappear, the world would be a better place. FALSE! Like any animal, sharks are integral to the balance and function of the ecosystems they inhabit—the very same ecosystem that provides us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. Sharks balance the ocean’s food chain and keep marine populations healthy by feeding off the sick and weak.

MYTH: Nothing can hurt a shark

While sharks are apex predators in the oceans, humans pose a significant and unnatural threat to shark populations. Every year up to 70 million sharks are killed for their fins, while others are victims of poor fishing management—being accidentally caught up in commercial fishing nets. Sharks grow and mature quite slowly, so populations struggle to replenish at the same rate of fishing and finning, which results in rapid declines worldwide.

MYTH: Sharks aren’t smart

A common myth is that sharks have brains the size of walnuts and aren’t exactly the smartest creatures. Again, wrong. It’s been found that sharks have some of the biggest brains among all fish, having brain-to-body ratios close to that of birds and mammals.

MYTH: Shark attacks are common

Although the media may make shark attacks seem like a common occurrence, you’re actually more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a shark. In fact, more people are injured by toilets and killed by falling coconuts every year! In 2013 there were 72 shark attacks globally, of which only 10 were fatal.

MYTH: Shark fin soup contains valuable medicinal properties

This common claim is a total myth. Shark fins are made up entirely of cartilage, a flexible protein that has zero nutritional value or health benefits. Shark flesh is actually likely to contain poisonous amounts of mercury, as the shark absorbs mercury and other toxins from all the fish it’s consumed. 

So there you have it—not everything you hear about sharks is true! Want to help protect sharks? Sign the Fin Free petition or purchase our Shark Fin soap: 100% of the purchase price supports Fin Free, a global campaign dedicated to eliminating shark finning.