Coral World Ocean Park Shark Shallows “Apex Predators”
At Coral World, we have what’s known as a “head-start” program. We bring very young sharks in at the time in their life where they are most vulnerable to larger predators and fisherman. We let them grow up here in the safety of this protected environment, where we keep them for a few years until they are larger, stronger and closer to reproductive age and size at which point we tag them and release them back to the wild.
We do this because shark populations around the world are in drastic decline. In the last 20 years alone we have lost about 90% of the world’s sharks. And each year 100-150 million are continuing to be taken from the global waters. This is almost entirely due to overfishing. That is obviously devastating to the numbers of sharks, but it is also having a profoundly negative impact on the rest of the marine ecosystem.
Sharks, as apex or top predators, are extremely important for the balance of the marine ecosystem. Apex predators are responsible for eating sick, diseased, and dying fish which keep fish populations healthy. Without sharks and other apex predators eating those sick and dying fish, those populations get sicker and die off. Eventually entire coastal ecosystems collapse due to the removal of apex predators like sharks. So we’re trying to do our part to keep our local populations as healthy as possible by offering this head-start program.