Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The demise of sharks



Whilst watching 'Warship' on Channel Five (UK) recently the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean was forced to stop in Malaysian waters to recover a dead body. The body had obviously been in the water for some time as it was badly decomposed.

This got me thinking. Aren't Malaysian waters meant to be shark infested? If so what was a dead body doing floating around long enough to decompose?

Sharks are not only predators, they are also the scavengers of the sea, cleaning up all the dead and dying, keeping the ocean healthy. Was this yet another sign that sharks are becoming increasingly rare due to overfishing?

I recalled in my mind the USS Indianapolis incident. In 1945 whilst on a top secret mission to deliver parts for the atomic bomb she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and 900 of her 1200 crew succumbed to attacks by sharks or drowned.

If the Indianapolis was to undergo this fate in 2009, it is possible that the last thing that her crew would need to worry about would be an attack by a shark - there just aren't enough sharks left.

'Shark infested' may well be a term that passes into history as we move into the next decade.