John on Press Herald Post


Hey!  Breaking news bulletin!  “16 out of the 21 oceanic shark and ray species that are caught in high seas fisheries are at heightened risk of extinction due primarily to targeted fishing.”

Well, actually this shouldn’t be news to anyone interested in ocean ecosystems.  Despite their reputation for ferocity, sharks are some of the most vulnerable creatures in the world.  They bear live young, have the longest gestation periods in nature (close to two-years), and produce only a few babies at a time.  Sharks are incredibly susceptible to overfishing and as the world demands more protein these various shark species are going, going…..soon to be gone.

Porbeagles, makos, blue sharks – we have them here in the Gulf of Maine.  They are oceanic sharks, meaning they don’t often come close to shore.  I’ve had a basking shark along side of a lobster boat while fishing on Jefferys Ledge – the animal was longer than the boat (42 foot).  It’s a plankton eater.

These open ocean predators are becoming relatively rare.  What we human beings have done in terrestrial environments around the planet we are also doing in our oceans, which is to relentlessly crop off those species at the top of the food-web.  It’s happening around the world, and it’s happening here in the Gulf of Maine.