11 Top Ways to Help Save Sharks

As an ocean lover, you know that sharks often get a bad rap. They are largely misrepresented to the public as menacing creatures we should fear. If you are a diver that has been lucky enough to see these magnificent animals, then you also know what beautiful animals they really are! Join the growing movement to help protect and preserve sharks for future generations by following these 11 ways to help save sharks.

11 Ways to Help Save Sharks.

1. Join shark conservation organizations.

Sharks are invaluable to humans and the natural world. They help keep oceans healthy, maintain fisheries we rely upon, and support multi-million dollar ecotourism industries. Unfortunately, many shark species are already threatened with extinction, with more being added every year. There are many great conservation organizations that are working hard to save sharks and you can help them by donating money, volunteering your time, or even adopting a shark. Some have specific goals in mind, like stopping shark finning or reducing bycatch, and others have more general purposes. A simple Google search will bring up many organizations for you to choose from.

 2. Say no to plastics.

Reducing your plastic use is one of the easiest ways to support ocean health and help save sharks. It is estimated there are 100 million tons of plastic in the oceans, which degrade into tiny microplastics and harm marine life. Recent studies have shown that sharks are polluted with microplastics, including from polyester clothing. Help reduce plastics in the ocean by saying no to single-use plastics such as straws, balloons, shopping bags, and water bottles. Instead, use reusable cloth bags, a refillable water bottle, and metal or bamboo straws. Ready for the next step? Start replacing your toiletries and household products with plastic-free alternatives when they run out or are beyond repair. There are numerous companies offering affordable plastic-free and biodegradable products that still get the job done. READ MORE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BEING AN ECO-DIVER.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

This phrase was introduced in the late ’70s and is still going strong, and for good reason. Reducing your waste, reusing items you already have, and recycling as much as possible is an important step in shark conservation and helps keep oceans clean. Healthy oceans are essential for helping sharks survive and thrive!

4. Avoid shark products.

Many cosmetic and nutrition companies use shark liver oil (squalene) and shark cartilage (chondroitin) in their products. Make sure you read the label of any beauty items and supplements you purchase to ensure they do not contain shark materials. You can get shark-free supplements and cosmetics that work just as well. Check your garden fertilizers and pet food for fishmeal that contains shark, and avoid luxury items such as belts, purses and shoes  made from shagreen (shark leather). Boycotting items that contain shark products will reduce consumer demand and force companies to find an alternative to using sharks in their merchandise. At a glance – shark products to avoid: 
  • Squalene/squalene (shark liver oil).
  • Chondroitin (shark cartilage).
  • Shark jewelry (shark teeth).
  • Shagreen (shark leather).
  • Fishmeal that contains sharks.

5. Do not eat sharks, skates, or rays.

Make sure you do not eat any sharks, skates, or rays. There are many names for shark meat, and fish sticks, fish strips, bully sticks, and artificial crab sticks also often contain shark meat. At a glance - common names for shark meat:
  • Whitefish
  • Rock salmon
  • Flake
  • Dogfish
  • Huss
  • Steakfish
  • Lemon fish
  • Rigg
  • Gummy
  • Ocean filet
The Shark Project website lists more names for shark meat that will help you avoid accidentally eating shark meat at home or away.

6. Eat less seafood.

Even though not eating shark meat is an obvious way to save sharks, reducing your consumption of commercially fished seafood is a great way to help too. Commercial fishing indirectly kills sharks by decreasing the population of their primary food source and directly kills them as commercial fishing bycatch. Sharks make up the majority of bycatch amongst fish and shrimp trawlers. By decreasing the demand for mass-caught seafood, you can reduce the number of sharks killed each year through commercial fishing. HELP SAVE THE OCEANS - JOIN SSI'S BLUE OCEANS MOVEMENT.

7. Reduce your carbon footprint.

Reducing your carbon footprint helps to minimize the effects of climate change, which helps to reduce ocean acidification and protect sharks. Some sharks live among coral reefs, which are threatened by ocean acidification. As these reef structures degrade, sharks lose their food supplies and struggle to survive. By lowering your carbon footprint, you can help to save sharks and reduce climate change at the same time. At a glance – top ways to reduce your carbon footprint:
  • Have a meat-free night each week.
  • Switch to LED lightbulbs.
  • Use renewable electricity providers.
  • Offset carbon from your travels.
  • Ditch the car whenever you can.

8. Tell your government to help save sharks.

Another great way to protect sharks is to speak up on their behalf. Write a letter to your governmental representative and let them know that shark conservation is important to you and those around you. Ask them to introduce and support shark conservation legislation. Specific areas to mention include banning shark finning, banning shark fishing, listing sharks as protected species, and creating ocean conservation areas throughout your country. DISCOVER TOP PLACES TO DIVE WITH SHARKS AROUND THE WORLD.

9. Join a clean-up event.

Picking up litter from beaches, rivers, and other watery environments is a great way to ensure less plastic enters the oceans. You can also join local clean-up dives to remove plastic from dive sites and around your coastline. All of which helps to protect sharks and other marine life from harm. Find your local SSI Center and see what events are happening near you.

10. Get shark smart and spread the word!

Educating yourself about sharks is one of the most important steps you can take to help save sharks. Challenge yourself to find out why sharks are vital for healthy oceans, learn some cool facts, and share what you learn with your family, friends, and community. Teaching people why sharks matter and how they can help save sharks is such a rewarding way to make a difference. Love talking about sharks? Organize a shark conservation talk in your local community, at your dive club or school. GET YOUR SHARK GEEK ON: 19 FUN FACTS ABOUT SHARKS.

11. Share your shark love on social.

Today, most people live their lives online. Social media is an excellent way to share your passion for sharks, create awareness of the perils that sharks face, and call others to join you in taking action. Give sharks a voice by making others aware there is a problem and what they can do to help fix it. Sometimes facing a significant issue like shark conservation can seem daunting, but always keep in mind that one person CAN make a difference. You just have to start somewhere! These eleven ways you can help save sharks are a great place to start. So, what are you waiting for? Share this list with your friends and start saving sharks today!