Sharks are an important indicator of reef health, and a good sign of a healthy reef! They are top predators: if there are sharks, then there are the fish that they eat, and the fish that they eat, and the fish that they eat, and the plants that they eat, all the way down the food chain. Sharks (especially reef sharks) are mostly scavengers, so they’re always looking for an easy meal. This means they ‘pick-off’ all the slow, sick fish, leaving the healthiest and strongest to grow up and have lots of babies, passing on ‘big and strong’ genes, and keeping fish populations nice and healthy. This supports not only the ocean ecosystem but also our fisheries.
Many people are afraid of sharks until they find themselves in the water with them for the first time. Experience can change your perceptions, so keep an open mind to the possibility that you may see a shark during your visit. Reef sharks are not man-eaters like the movies and media make them out to be.
The closest most people have ever come to sharks before is at their local fish shop. It’s marketed as ‘flake’. Many shark species are on the endangered species list. If you love eating fish, be sure to check it’s a sustainable option before you buy. There is an App called the ‘Sustainable Seafood Guide’. Put any fish in and it will tell you with a traffic light system whether a fish is ok to eat or not. “Red” = don’t eat me, our populations are suffering/low/unsustainable, “yellow” = if you have another choice, it’s better to choose that, and “green” means go for it, our populations are healthy and it’s a good sustainable choice. The guide helps you continue to enjoy eating fish in a conscious, responsible way.