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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Myth busters #1 — Sharks & Stingrays


Sharks and Stingrays have pretty bad reputations. People fear them for many reasons, but are any of these reasons based on fact? Read on for interesting myth busters about these misunderstood creatures of the sea.



SHARKS
Movies like Jaws have instilled fear into the hearts of people around the world. The idea of a giant, intelligent, man-eating shark with 3 rows of razor sharp teeth and a quest for vengeance is quite daunting, but the reality is that sharks need our help. We need to quell these myths in order to protect these magnificent creatures.

Myth:
Sharks are man-eaters.

Fact:
Sharks are being hunted to the brink of extinction in part because of their reputation as man-eaters. Generally when a shark ‘attack’ happens (which is very rare) it is a case of mistaken identity. When sharks bite humans they think they are getting a nice bite of seal (one of their favorite sources of food), and usually they swim away when they realize their mistake.

Myth:
Sharks are not threatened.

Fact:
Many species of sharks are threatened because they tend to grow slowly and produce few young, which leaves them vulnerable to overfishing. Sharks are very important to the eco systems within which they exist. Not only is it very sad to lose any species to extinction, but it affects other populations, and causes imbalance and further extinction. The key cause of this sad state of affairs is shark finning. Shark finning is the horrible fishing practice where fishermen catch sharks, slice off all of their fins, and throw their still living bodies back into the sea. The mutilated sharks (still alive) sink to the bottom, and being unable to swim they are slowly eaten alive by other fish. The multi billion-dollar industry is estimated to kill 100 million sharks annually.  To spread awareness of this cruel practice a very graphic and disturbing video was created by www.sharkproject.org.
Watch it here! 


Myth:
Sharks do not have predators.

Fact:
Humans are the scariest predators to ever exist.
  



Sub Sea Systems® has helped to develop SHARKS! Interactive® — A Hands-On Shark Adventure. This interactive program puts guests face-to-face with the feared animal! The program uses trained nurse sharks, and allows visitors to touch, pet, feed, and swim with sharks! This interaction educates people about sharks, alleviates fears, and promotes deep personal connections to the misunderstood creatures. Education is the key to saving these animals from overfishing.




Visit www.sharksinteractive.com for locations and information.



STINGRAYS

The stingrays’ already shady reputation was exacerbated when Steve Irwin — ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ — was killed by a stingray in 2006. A stingray’s venomous barb stabbed Irwin’s heart and caused his death while he was filming a series called “Ocean’s Deadliest,” in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. The story is tragic, but the late Steve Irwin would never want his death to create animosity toward the stingray. He spent his life trying to quash fears about ‘so-called’ dangerous creatures. It is important that fear does not take away our desire to protect the diversity of life that exists on our planet.

Myth:
Stingrays attack humans.

Fact:
Stingrays are very gentle creatures and generally only use their venomous barb when they feel threatened in some way. To avoid coming into contact with a stingray, experts recommend you do the ‘stingray shuffle’ when you are walking in the ocean. This means you walk and drag your feet through the sand. Because stingrays burrow into the sand, this motion will warn them of your presence. The stingrays will swim away — no harm done.

Myth:
Stingrays do not give live birth.

Fact:
Stingrays give birth to live babies that look exactly like miniatures of their mother. They usually have between 2–6 pups each year. Watch this amazing video of a live birth. 



Myth:
Stingrays are not threatened species.

Fact:
Many species of stingrays are threatened and some are even endangered due primarily to overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. The beautiful creatures need people to work to preserve their species. Learn more at the Save Our Seas’ website



Stingray Bay® is a program founded by Sub Sea Systems. It allows people to interact with stingrays in the water, petting, touching, and feeding them. These stingrays are trained by knowledgeable trainers, and they love to be pet. The program helps to dispel fears about stingrays, and inspires desire to help protect the friendly docile creatures. Visit www.stingray-bay.com to sign up for news about the program. Currently the program is offered at Xcaret in Mexico. 

Additionally, if you ever want to interact with stingrays or sharks under the sea — we offer SeaTREK® with Stingrays and SeaTREK with sharks in a few select locations.



Check out the website at www.sea-trek.com

Do you know any myths about stingrays or sharks that you would like to dispel? Write them in the comments below.

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