There are so many amazing species of marine life out there, but we all know that many of them might disappear within a generation or two. Gone forever, never to exist again. These threatened species, in this case endangered sharks, have evolved for millions of years, survived five mass extinctions, global catastrophes of epic proportions, global warming, ice ages, super volcanoes and climate change. But it seems the one thing to tip these endangered sharks over the edge, is humans: The world’s most evasive species.

I don’t always believe in preaching fire and brimstone or doom and gloom. That hardly ever inspires change. I can talk about how our greed and lack of farsightedness is harming our planet and, maybe ultimately, the future of our own race. We already know that disrupting a MAJOR link in the food chain of the ocean, can lead to certain destruction, but we do nothing. We know that algae and plankton in the ocean produces more oxygen, or soaks up more CO2, than all the trees and forests in the world combined, and we know that killing all the sharks will eliminate the main predator of the fish that eat the plankton and algae, meaning the natural balance would be eliminated and our main CO2 scrubbers and oxygen emitters wiped out. But we aren’t generally bothered.

We humans love doom and gloom. Zombie apocalypses, killer asteroids, plagues, Mayan calendar, Y2K….We all love end-of-the-world scenarios. So preaching doom and gloom wont faze anyone. No one will get passionate about saving the planet from some far off possibility.

My idea is that to get people inspired about something important, is to make it personal and appeal to their emotions. It’s not all my idea though. Jacques Cousteau once said, and I’m paraphrasing; “in order for someone to save something, first they must love it“. So there you go. By showing you these awesome and interesting and strange rare sharks, hopefully some of you can grow a love or serious passion for them. It just might work too, because lets face it, how can you look at some of these faces and not fall in love!? Here is a list of 10 sharks of the most critically endangered species on Earth.

9 Critically Endangered Sharks Worth loving.

Pondicherry shark

endangered sharks Pondicherry shark

Photo from Wikimedia

The first critically endangered fish on the list is the Pondicherry shark, which is a species of requiem shark.I put this on the list because it’s actually not clear whether this shark is critically endangered, or already extinct. Supposedly there hasn’t been a recorded sighting since 1979.

Unfortunately for the pointy nosed Pondicherry, their territory was known to be in the coastal waters from the Gulf of Oman to New Guinea, which even now is a murderer’s row for sharks and any other profitable marine life. If it still extant, poor Pondi would be threatened by heavy and unregulated fishing throughout its range.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Pondicherry as a Critically Endangered sharks and placed a high priority on locating any surviving populations, but considering the horribly unregulated commercial fishing in the regions, there isn’t a lot of hope for the future of the species of Pondicherrys, even if it’s not already extinct.

Ganges shark

 ganges shark endangered sharks

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Ganges is another species of requiem shark found only in the Ganges and Brahmaputra River of India and Bengal Bay area. It is sometimes mistaken for the more famous bull shark, but unlike the far ranging bulls, the Ganges stays in its range and is a true river shark. I find this unfortunate, considering its home if now one of the most polluted and crowded river in the world, thats also cris-crossed in gill nets. The endangered Ganges shark is over fished for its fins and jaw, haring a dreadful fate with the also-endangered Ganges river dolphin.

In 2001 the Indian government put a ban on killing the sharks, but its believed there is zero enforcement, and the demise continues. A 10 year survey was conducted but only a few Ganges sharks were found. luckily or not, shark fins and jaws in Asian fish markets have been confirmed as from the Ganges sharks, meaning that its probably extant, but that its still being killed.

New Guinea or Northern river shark

New Guinea river shark

Photo credit: Shark Reference

The Norther River Shark was only discovered in Australia in 1986, and only 36 specimens have been recorded here since.Yet another of these rare river sharks and species of the requiem sharks, and its closes relative being the very similar Speartooth Shark, The Northern River Shark’s only known territories are a small number of locations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea. Like other river sharks, it is believe they have an extra sense that we don’t have, one that senses electric fields of other animals, because of their tiny eyes and the brackish water they live in.

Though this shark is listed as a critically endangered shark, this one might just have some hope of survival. It is possible that, because of its remote habitats, that many more that the few that have been recorded, exist.

 

Irrawaddy river shark

Sadly I think I am too late to ave this shark. Scientists and biologist didn’t even know it existed until a single specimen was caught at the mouth of the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar in the 19th century. Scientists even thought for the longest time that it was a deformed bull shark or other kind of river shark, but in 2005 shark systematist Leonard Compagno recognized it as distinct member of the genus Glyphis. We have no idea the history of this shark since only one has ever been found, and its also dead. They havn’t declared it extinct yet, but theres no real hope. Gillnetting,line and electrofishing have a serious impact on the other rare shark species of the region, so they are surely to blame for the demise (or pending?) of the Irrawaddy river shark.

Natal shyshark

endangered sharks

This photo from Biodiversity Explorer. These photos are really hard to find, but I think thats a Natal

Another Rare shark under threat from habitat degradation and commercial fishing, the Natal shyshark has been assessed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Natal shyshark is similar to the puffadder shyshark in appearance but has a stockier body, less flattened head, a compressed caudal peduncle, and a different color pattern. Its so clode in appearance in fact, that only in 2006 was it declared its own species.

The KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa is the shark’s only known habitat area, and area of less than 40 square miles. The shysharks are so named because they curl into a ring and cover their eyes with their tails when threatened. Now how cute must that be?! The locals call this guy “Happy Chappie”

Daggernose shark

endangered sharksDaggernose sharks, getting to around 1.5 meters long, with their flattened snouts and relatively large fins, are the only members of their genus. Their range is from around Trinidad and Tobago down to Eastern Brazil. Once again, overfishing is the main threat to this rare shark. Although most fishermen aren’t targeting these sharks directly, they are caught in nets intended for other species. Studies conducted in Brazil in the 1990s found that daggernose sharks comprised as much as 10 percent of regional fish catches. The rate of fishing combined with the shark’s slow reproductive rate has caused dramatic population declines. A 2002 study found that populations had dropped more than 90 percent over the previous decade. Just like the other endangered sharks in this list, I searched for conservation prgrams or air projects for the daggernose, but fond nothing. And just like the rest, couldn’t even find a real photo of one besides this depiction of one from a scientific study in 1839. These sharks need our help for sure.

Striped smooth-hound

endangered sharks

Photo source: Fishbase

There are many kinds of smooth hound sharks, but the stripped one, ranging from Argentina and Southern Brazil, is critically endangered. Again, over fishing, mainly from trawling and long lining, in the sharks small territory, is helping speed up its demise. Dragging heavy trawling nets along the bottom and scraping up everything in its path, is not only directly killing the sharks as bycatch, but also destroying their limited breeding grounds, nurseries and hunting territories.

Their main food is shrimp and mollusk, the main target for trawlers. By surveying trawlers and fishers in Uruguay and Northern Argentina, scientists say the stripped smooth hound shark has decreased by 96% between 1994 and 1999, with no more regulation or relief for them since. Trawling and long lining and gill net fishing continue almost entirely without restriction, regardless of the odd law here and there. These beautiful and rare shark, just like all the others, need a sanctuary where they can come back. in the US where critically endangered species were protected and given sanctuary, the populations have come back. We know it can work. 

Sawback Angel Shark

There are a few types of angel sharks, the name referring to its large pectoral fins that stretch wide, like wings. Sadly the sawback is another shark on the list of endangered animals, again from over fishing and encroachment. Its territory ranges from the Mediterranean sea and eastern Atlantic, from Italy to Angola. Sadly this beautiful shark is highly susceptible to trawling, because it spends a lot of time buried in the sand waiting for food. Its not a desired or useful shark to humans, but it is still a by-catch and number are dangerously low.

Sadly the only areas in this critically endangered shark’s territory that are protected are around Spanish islands like Lanzarote. Sightings in the Mediterranean and Western Africa are extremely rare now, making it likely that sawback will become extinct in the wild if we don’t find a solution to long lining and trawling

 

Smooth back angel shark

Another species of angle shark that is on the verge of extinction. This species is part of an evolutionary chain dating back over 350 million years, and we decided to kill it off within our existence. Sadly, since these rare sharks on this list are hard to spot in the wild, let alone photograph, I either couldn’t find photos, or they are photos or videos from sharks in aquariums or research stations, such as below.

“The mistake we make, then, either in seeking to destroy sharks or in not caring if we inadvertently destroy them, is one of cosmic stupidity. If I have one hope, it is that we will come to appreciate and protect those wonderful creatures before we mange, through ignorance, stupidity, and greed, to wipe them out altogether.” -Peter Benchley, Author of “Jaws”

 


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Justin Carmack
Blogger at True Nomads
Justin is a dive master and world traveler on a mission to dive and document the top 100 dive sites in the world. In doing this he hopes to bring love for the marine environment to the world!
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