Wednesday, 12 December 2018

World's strangest sharks and rays 'on brink of extinction'

By Helen Briggs BBC News
4 December 2018
Some of the world's most unusual sharks and rays are on the brink of extinction because of threats such as commercial fishing, scientists have said.
A shark that uses its tail to stun prey and a ray half the length of a bus are on the list of 50 species.
The scientists say sharks have a bad image and people do not understand how important and threatened they are.
And losing even one of these "living fossils" would wipe out millions of years of evolutionary history.
"The biggest myth around sharks is definitely the perception that they are dangerous, that they are man-eating machines - they're not," marine biologist Fran Cabada told BBC News.
"There have been some negative interactions recorded but they are very infrequent and they're not intentional."
This is the first time sharks, rays and chimeras (fish with cartilage in place of bones) have been assessed for the Edge (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) of Existence programme.
Most sharks are at the top of the food chain, which makes them crucial to the health of the oceans.
Losing them would have a big impact on other fish populations and, ultimately, human livelihoods.
"They have very few relatives on the tree of life, so they are very unique and losing them will actually represent a big, big loss," said Fran Cabada.

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