Great white sharks are probably one of the most feared animals in the sea, especially by humans. But these fearsome predators, featured in the classic movie, “Jaws,” are in some serious trouble according to some local conservation groups. After conducting a series of scientific studies, the conservation groups determined that only about 350 great whites now exist off the California and Baja Mexico coasts.
“The great white needs greater protection,” David McGuire, the director of Sea Stewards told NY Daily News. “The latest evidence shows that there could be as few as 100 adult females left in these waters.”
The desire to deliver that protection prompted Sea Stewards, along with two other environmental groups, to file a petition with the Fish and Game Commission to have great whites placed on the endangered species list; the Commission voted unanimously to consider the petition. If the year-long review of the shark populations confirms the depleted population, great whites will be formally placed on the endangered species list.
“It was very gratifying to have worked so hard on this and to have the committee vote unanimously,” said McGuire.
But not everyone is excited to hear about the ruling.
“I think these animals are very stealthy,” a fisherman said at the meeting on Wednesday told the commission, the San Jose Mercury News reported. “I don’t think the count that you have is the real count.”
However, according to McGuire, fishermen are part of the reason that these predators are in trouble. Though California already bans great white fishing, commercial fisheries are exempt from facing fines when sharks are accidentally caught in fishing nets.
“Fisherman who catch great whites in their nets have been selling them to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for extra cash, but now, in part because of our petition, the aquarium has said they will suspend their white shark in captivity program,” McGuire said. “That tells me that they’re a true leader in ocean conservation.”
And according to McGuire, that’s important, not just for the sharks, but also the entire ocean food chain, including the fisherman that seem less than pleased over the ruling.
“We need these sharks to help control exploding seal and sea lion populations, who, in turn, are overeating the salmon,” McGuire said.
He and the groups that helped set up the petition are in hopes that, with a better understanding of the struggles the great whites face, California legislators will step in and provide protections for the great whites because, despite the fact that they seem like invincible creatures, they are still just as at risk as any other animal that must try and sustain life against the ever-worsening effects of a lack of compassion and humanity among humans.
“Despite their power, they’re actually incredibly vulnerable to the terrible way we treat our oceans,” Emily Jeffers, an attorney for the Center of Biological Diversity, said in a press release.