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Does This Shark Look Vulnerable?

Does This Shark Look Vulnerable? It may not look it, but the Sand Tiger Shark, also known as the Grey Nurse Shark or Ragged Tooth Shark, is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It’s a fate that sadly awaits many of its fellow sharks as well: One in four species is being exploited commercially and unsustainably. The Sand Tiger Shark, for example, is slow to reproduce, producing only 1-2 pups over the course of a year or two. It tends to congregate in large numbers at certain times of the year, exposing it to overfishing. Its fins cut off for shark fin soup and its flesh savored in Japan, the Sand Tiger has been driven close to extinction in previous centuries, when it was prized for its oil; it is now at risk again. Fortunately, several excellent conservation organizations are working on the problem. Oceana is pushing for effective shark-finning bans, better management of all species, and a reduction in the number of sharks damaged or killed as “bycatch” of fishing operations. They have enlisted January Jones, otherwise known as Mrs. Don Draper, of AMC’s Mad Men, as a spokesperson: Watch her Oceana video here. In the U.K., the Shark Trust is also campaigning against finning and offers an opportunity to Adopt a Shark (Basking or Great White). And in Argentina, the Sand Tiger Shark has found a true friend. Gustavo Chiaramonte, the head of the Ichthyological Division and curator of the Ichthyology National Collection of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences, leads a research team, supported by the Whitley Fund for Nature that is identifying and surveying shark and ray nurseries. While the Sand Tiger and others continue to be heavily fished in Argentine waters, Chiaramonte hopes to use the data to work with local fishermen and national agencies. Already, Argentina’s National Fisheries Authority has agreed to include shark nurseries in the Natural Protected Areas Law and to prohibit fishing at one sensitive coastal area.
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