Stop Mako Mania Shark Tournament in Ocean City, MD
Stop Mako Mania Shark Tournament in Ocean City, MD
11,000 - Do you know what that number stands for? That very large number is the amount of sharks that are killed every single hour all over the world. 247,000 a day and 100,000,000 a year for their meat, fins, cartilage, teeth, jaws, and liver. If you saw how they were caught and slaughtered or how detrimental ingesting the meat is to your health, you'd think twice. I get it... It's hard to care about something that you may be afraid of. Even harder to love something that you don't understand.
Sharks are apex predators and play a crucial role in the ecosystem by maintaining the species below them in the food chain. They remove all of the weak and sick animals/fish in the ocean and are a huge indicator of the ocean's health. So many people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and others for recreation, travel, and food. Without them smaller fish would be in abundance, they would eventually wipe out the plankton/microorganisms/shrimps, the smaller fish would starve and die, and algae/bacteria would cover then kill our coral reefs. Without the reefs coastal fishing industries would collapse, Coastal tourism would shrink, coastlines would diminish, medical breakthroughs would come to a halt, and 50-80 percent of our oxygen would disappear. These dominos will start falling very soon if we don't start protecting the animals who keep all of this in balance. We have got to try to understand and we have got to try to keep these amazing animals safe.
Shark fishing tournaments like Mako Mania are slowly contributing to the decline of quite a few vulnerable shark species. When I say vulnerable, I am not giving you my opinion - Mako and Thresher sharks that are being targeted in this tournament are being wiped out. They are very close to being gone forever. Mako Mania in Ocean City, MD is not the only one here on the east coast... there are MANY more and some even larger scale. This is the one that hits home for me though because it is in my very own backyard. As much as I love sharks, I am also guilty. I was uneducated about this specific tournament and each year while on vacation in Ocean City, MD I would try to get to Bahia Marina to see the sharks weigh in. I would even buy the t-shirts each year. I regret this.
Multiple boats go out each day of this tournament in search for the largest Mako and Thresher sharks. Prize money is awarded to the largest fish caught each day. Sharks take many years and sometimes DECADES to mature sexually. If they survive long enough to reach this stage, some sharks only give birth to a few pups at a time and their gestation periods are anywhere from 9-24 months. Fisherman see these large sharks as a prize but I see mother's being killed and mature sharks being pulled from the ocean before they get a chance to build their population back up. Shark fishing is just not sustainable no matter how you do it.
Aside from these two species being very vulnerable, they are useless. Sharks are at the top of the food chain, apex predators bioaccumulate heavy metals and toxins such as mercury and lead which have been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Consumption of mercury even in small quantities can cause damage to the brain, digestive, and immune system. Shark meat and shark fin soup is a health hazard and it may be hidden on a menu near you without you even knowing. Shark meat is sometimes disguised under names such as; flake, whitefish, grayfish, dogfish, imitation crab (surimi), cape steak, gummy, lemon fish, ocean fish or filet, rigg, rock salmon, sea ham, steak fish, and even fish and chips. Shark liver oil is another reason they are being slaughtered every day. This oil that is referred to as squalene is used in medications, vaccines, skincare, and makeup. This ingredient has a PLANT BASED ALTERNATIVE. Why are we killing animals that keep our ocean and environment healthy when there is another option right in front of us?!
Overall - there is just no reason why we should be adding to the rapid decline of sharks for prize money. We should not be gathering to get a closer look at one of these amazing creatures dead hanging from a hook at a marina. We should not be supporting the businesses that sponsor this event each year or the marina that hosts it. There are so many ways to learn and experience sharks without hurting them, the ocean, or ourselves. There are research charters in the same waters that this tournament takes place in that will take you to see and learn about these animals safely. There are plenty of ecotourism businesses that will take you in the water to see these beautiful animals for what they really are. There are plenty of conservationists and scientists who will help you understand how to protect them and why you should do it.
If we don't try to do better now, sharks will be gone within the next few decades. If you feel as strongly as I do about this... please sign this petition, share it, encourage others, and if you would like follow my new Instagram account @shark.mantha