It may seem as if the world’s oceans are so vast that nothing could hurt them. Unfortunately, that’s not true. The oceans suffer from people dumping stuff that they don’t want (pollution) and taking too much from the ocean that they do want (overfishing). You can help turn this problem around.
You probably already know how to help fight pollution: Participate in stream, river, and beach cleanups; don’t litter; and don’t dump things into storm drains. But you may not realize that too many fish–including the bluefin tuna (pictured)–are being taken from the sea. Some overfished species are disappearing–such as sharks.
People kill 100 million sharks every year. The desire for shark fin
soup is one big reason so many sharks die. These fish are caught, their
fins are cut off to be sold and the rest of their bodies are thrown
back into the sea.
Many fish are slow growing, and live decades or even centuries. Orange roughies can live to be more than 100 years old. Rockfish can live to 200! And Chilean seabass live 40 years. Where there aren’t enough of these slow growing fish, it threatens the species because the fish are often taken from the sea before they are old enough to reproduce. These species could disappear.
Get more Facts on Fish.
By Enric Sala, Marine Ecologist, National Geographic Fellow
Photograph from Index Stock Imagery/ Photolibrary
National Geographic Kids magazine, August 2009