8.10.11 – Shark Week

“Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel was always something my sons and I looked forward to watching every summer.  They enjoyed watching the shows and becoming educated about these fascinating animals.  Now, they have grown up and begun their own lives, so we no longer watch it together.

I have not had the opportunity to watch the shows as much as I used to, but honestly, I no longer really have the desire.  The shows I have seen are either inane, or seem to love to dwell on the danger to humans that the sharks pose (which is way over exaggerated) and how people have survived, or not, shark attacks.  There seems to be an emphasis on scaring people, and very little real education.

Sharks are the top predators in the food pyramid and play a critical role in maintaining balance in the ocean ecosystem.  They remove old, sick or weak prey, and so allow the healther and stronger animals to reproduce.  Globally, sharks are severely endangered, with one third of them facing extinction.  Overfishing and the practice of shark finning (removing only the fins to make shark fin soup, and then dumping the still live shark overboard to die a slow death) have seriously depleted shark populations.  It is difficult or impossible to enforce regulations for protection of  sharks and other ocean dwelling fish, such as swordfish and bluefin tuna.

I found this on the Discover Channel website “The reality is that shark populations worldwide are in grave danger. The most conservative estimates report that one-fifth of all sharks and rays are critically close to extinction. Some, like hammerheads and thresher sharks, have declined by over 80 percent in the past 15 years. Hundreds of other species are so poorly known that scientists fear they will die out before we even get to learn about them.” This is interesting, since the programming does not seem to reflect what is on their channel.  Perhaps it is time for the Discovery Channel to rethink the emphasis of their programming and provide real education to their viewers.

This Week’s Results .

The dissolved oxygen levels continued to be lower than 5.0 mg/L at the bottom in sites in Cold Spring Harbor this week.  (Levels at 5.0 mg/L of DO are considered to be healthy for all marine organisms).  Water temperatures have risen to more than 20 centigrade.  Readings at levels higher in the water column, 1.0 meter and .5 meter from the surface, were closer to or exceeded 5.0 mg/L of DO.  An algal bloom was observed southern end of Cold Spring Harbor.  Due to tidal conditions, Friends of the Bay volunteers were unable to get up into Mill Neck Creek.