Threats to Sharks
While it is impossible to know how many sharks are killed yearly due to illegal and unrecorded catch, it is estimated that up to 73 million sharks are killed each year by “finning” alone—a brutal practice that involves cutting off a shark’s fins, usually while it is still alive, and throwing the body back overboard where it either bleeds to death or drowns. The fins are then used to make shark fin soup, a traditional Asian delicacy.
If the number of sharks killed as bycatch, or unintended catch, is included, the number of sharks killed each year tops 100 million. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has estimated that 32 percent of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction.
Size: The spined pygmy shark, a deep-sea shark, is one of the smallest at only about 7-8 inches, while the whale shark is the largest shark, and fish, at about 50 feet in length.
Lifespan: Although lifespan varies by shark species, most sharks are long-lived and generally tend to live for 20-30 years. Species like the spiny dogfish and the whale shark are believed to live for over 100 years!