Last night, I watched a program on National Geographic where a group of Marine Biologists were studying sharks, catching, measuring and weighing them, taking blood and sperm count samples and then tagging them before releasing them back into the ocean. They followed the sharks they tagged to find out their feeding and breeding grounds in order to later protect those areas from poachers.
I am totally supportive of that… but I find myself worried about the shark and his chances of survival after being caught, probed and all. Several questions popped into my head… Will tagging the shark decrease his chances of mating? (Since there would be a weird looking abnormal device hanging from his dorsal fin). If the shark was somehow injured, how would that affect him feeding? If the shark was exhausted after the whole ordeal of being caught and poked, would that put him in danger of being attacked by other sharks? I found myself worrying about the shark…
In the episode I was watching, and after all the above questions swam in my head, I saw, and to my horror, that while the Scientists were capturing the massive male shark, it bit the big red buoy and it got stuck in its mouth. When the men dragged the shark onto a platform to have it measured and all, they needed to immediately flush water through its gills to keep it breathing and alive.
They had a tough time taking the buoy out and in the end they discovered that the balloon’s large hook was stuck on the roof of the poor thing’s mouth… They tried getting to it from the gills but they were unsuccessful. Their last resort was to cut the chain that was connected to the hook and releasing the shark back into the water after 11.5 minutes of being out. They later said that the hook would disintegrate after two or three weeks in salt water.
After they had taken blood and sperm samples they discovered that the shark was ready to mate and was probably on his way to his mating grounds.
I know that they were trying to help protect the sharks in the long run but they had not made studies to check what happened to these sharks after they were released back… I mean, this shark would not be able to eat properly for two to three weeks because of this hook… he might lose weight and this might cut his chances of mating… He was totally exhausted because of the ordeal of staying out of the water for 11.5 minutes…. Would he have the energy to defend himself or mate? Would he be shunned and refused to be mated with because of the tracking device on his fin?
I am all for saving animal species from extinction... protecting them from being poached and killed for a few body parts and then left behind to rot or be eaten by other animals. I am all for studying them in their natural habitat to discover the different ways of guarding them and saving their environment.
I find myself confused … what about this particular shark then? Maybe the chances of this shark surviving, due to what it went through, are slim. So in order to save others, he had to sacrifice himself? I hope that he and all the others are ok and living happily. Many of the sharks that were being tagged were healthy ones and would be able to reproduce. Let us hope that these sharks would be taken off the list of endangered species due to the efforts of these marine Scientists.
If we never had poachers and people who destroyed our Earth, we would not need to catch those beautiful creatures to study them.