|A Mermaid's Purse, aka shark egg, at the Vancouver Aquarium.|
But hey, sharks are scary killers right? What do we need them for? Why should we change our way of thinking & embrace these misunderstood creatures? For one, sharks are a part of the natural ecosystem & serve an important function: they hunt & eat sick & dying animals. Just like any other ecosystem on our planet, when you remove a predator, the populations that it once controlled can grow to unsustainable numbers, having a snowball effect on through the environment.
|Yup. This is a shark. A Tasselled Wobbegong, to be exact.|
highlighting secrets about them through their current feature The Secret World of Sharks and Rays. I was invited to a tour of the show last weekend & found it fascinating to see some of these animals in real life. We got to watch a shark & ray feeding, saw "mermaid's purses" (shark eggs), & got a very close-up view of my new favourite shark: the Tasselled Wobbegong.
I knew before going that sharks, skates, rays & ratfishes often fall victim to “bycatch” (unintended catch) in commercial fisheries, but I had no idea that the toll is in the millions annually. Along with the well-known sharks & rays, unknown species are also removed from our oceans. In addition to bycatch, up to 73 million sharks are killed every year for the global shark fin market. Because of these two issues & other ecological disasters, the world’s shark population is rapidly decreasing. We need to do something about it. Through The Secret World of Sharks and Rays, the Vancouver Aquarium hopes to educate people about the threats these animals face.
Ocean Wise. Next time you’re dining out, look for the Ocean Wise symbol on the menu next to a seafood item for Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance that the dish you’re about to order is an ocean-friendly choice. When buying fish at the market, if you don't see the logos, ask!
Visit the Vancouver Aquarium to see and learn about the following sharks, skates, rays and ratfishes:
Blacktip reef sharks
Ocellated freshwater stingrays
Xingu River rays
Blue-spotted fantail rays
Pacific spiny dogfish
The Secret World of Sharks & Rays is on now until April 30th at the Vancouver Aquarium. If you're planning to go twice or more this year, get a membership! It's a great rainy day activity. You'll save on admission after two visits, plus you get 20% off at all their cafes & the gift shop. There are lots of other benefits--check out their membership page for more details.
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