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Why are whale shark important to the environment?

Sharks serve as top predators in the food chain, and are not prey to any other creature. This allows them to play the role of regulating the levels of other predators within the ocean.

How do whale sharks help the environment?

When ocean waters are rich in plankton, it shows the water is full of nutrients and the ecosystem is healthy. But, whale sharks also regulate the ocean’s plankton levels, and prevent these microscopic organisms from growing without restriction – which can have a negative effect on ocean environments if they do.

Why are whale sharks useful?

Often the whale shark is used as an indicator of waters rich in plankton-feeding fish that will, in turn, attract more valuable species such as tuna. Whale sharks have been kept in aquaria in Japan, but their large size and specialized diet precludes this species from being mainstream aquarium species.

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Why are sharks important for the ecosystem?

Because sharks directly or indirectly affect all levels of the food web, they help to maintain structure in healthy ocean ecosystems. This indirect control on prey species can affect the greater ecosystem. For example, sharks help preserve seagrass meadows by intimidating their prey, turtles, which eat seagrass.

What will happen if the whale shark goes extinct?

So, if these creatures went extinct, the ocean would lose an integral part of the long-term regulation of plankton levels in the ocean. With their highly-traded fins and meat, whale sharks are being overfished and poached around the world, and their numbers are decreasing each year.

What is the ecosystem of a whale shark?

Whale sharks have a broad distribution in tropical and warm temperate seas, usually between latitudes 30°N and 35°S. They are known to inhabit both deep and shallow coastal waters and the lagoons of coral atolls and reefs.

How do whale sharks impact humans?

Whale sharks have very large mouths and are filter feeders, which is a feeding mode that occurs in only two other sharks, the megamouth shark and the basking shark. They feed almost exclusively on plankton and small fishes, and pose no threat to humans.

What do whale sharks need to survive?

They open their mouths, let water come in and their bodies filter out food, and release the water and any debris back into the ocean. Plankton are their main food source, but they also eat shrimp, algae and other marine plant material, sardines, anchovies, mackerels, squid, tuna and albacore. They also eat fish eggs.

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How do whale sharks protect themselves?

Unlike other sharks, the whale shark does not actively use its teeth, so that’s not in their arsenal when it comes to protecting themselves. The whale shark depends solely on its thick skin and large size for protection against its predators like other filter feeders – the megamouth shark and the basking shark.

Are whale sharks friendly?

Swim With Whale Sharks at Cabo Adventures Whale sharks are one of the most amazing animals in the world — and while they may be sharks, they’re also one of the most gentle fish in the sea. In fact, whale sharks are so gentle, they’re completely safe to swim around.

What would happen without sharks?

Sharks are considered a ‘keystone’ species. This means that if they are removed from the food chain, the whole structure could collapse. Without sharks regulating the ecosystem underwater, vital habitats would undergo serious damage.

Why are sharks so important to the ocean?

As top predators, sharks help to manage healthy ocean ecosystems. And as the number of large sharks declines, the oceans will suffer unpredictable and devastating consequences. Sharks help maintain the health of ocean ecosystems, including seagrass beds and coral reefs. Healthy oceans undoubtedly depend on sharks.

Why are sharks important to animals and humans?

As apex predators, sharks feed on animals below them in the food chain, regulating and maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems. Sharks and other apex predators limit the population of their prey, which in turn affects the prey of the species of those animals.

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How does shark finning affect the environment?

The shark finning industry has caused negative effects on commercial fishing, endangered and threated species of sharks, and unpredictable and dangerous shifts in the marine ecosystem. Overfishing is defined as, “any fishing that is greater than the ‘Maximum Sustainable Yield’ “ (Fenner, 2010).

Are whale sharks vulnerable to extinction?

Whale sharks are listed as Endangered. Numbers of the giant plankton-feeding whale sharks have more than halved over the last 75 years as these slow-moving sharks continue to be fished and killed by ship propellers.

How does shark culling affect the ecosystem?

Tipping the delicate oceanic ecosystem out of balance “If there is a lack of sharks, then fish and other ocean creatures that would otherwise be consumed by sharks will become too numerous and eat too many smaller creatures and so on, meaning that the whole ecosystem changes massively.”

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