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A surfer died Monday off the coast of France’s Reunion island, following a shark attack which took his leg off. The victim, 22-year old Alexandre Rassica was saved to the beach by fellow surfers, but suffered a fatal cardiac arrest shortly thereafter.
This attack comes a mere week after an unfortunate surfer in Australia was killed in yet another vicious shark attack. Last year saw a spike in shark attacks with 12 fatal and 75 non fatal attacks.
Shark attacks receive lots of media attention and oftentimes spark dramatic headlines, but the reality is that sharks, although on top of the food chain in the sea, is not exactly on par with human beings when it comes to being the biggest predator. Scientists estimate a staggering 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, which are served as “shark fin soup” – a dish popular especially among the Chinese world population who believes the soup holds various medical properties. The expensive soup also serves as an important status symbol for the growing Chinese middle class.
This practice continues even after a recent study warned that a majority of the wide ranging oceanic sharks targeted in shark fin fishing are threatened by extinction. In fact, 16 out of the 21 sharks in the study are at heightened risk of extinction, with shark fin fishing being the main cause of it.
But is there even a need for sharks? Would the world not be better off without these man-eating creatures? Peter Knights, director of WildAid International disagrees, claiming sharks are vital for the equilibrium of an ecosystem.
“These are ecosystems that have evolved over millions and millions of years,” Knights say. “As soon as you start to take out an important part of it, it’s like a brick wall, you take out bricks [and] eventually it’s going to collapse.”
Sharks have been in existence for over 400 million years , thus they even predate the dinosaurs, yet in a short time span, human beings are coming close to exterminating them merely because of their fins, which ironically enough are completely tasteless.