Watch out! A great white shark’s bite is three times stronger than a lion’s.

Brad Leue/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

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Saving the Great White Monster

The shark is one of the most fearsome creatures on Earth. So why should you care that this terrifying animal is in great danger? 

    Imagine that you are the most feared creature in the ocean: the great white shark. You spread terror and panic wherever you go. Fish and dolphins scatter when you come near. Even six-ton killer whales aren’t safe around you. 

    That’s because you can kill every animal in the sea. 

    You attack by surprise. You strike from below, speeding toward your prey like a torpedo. You knock them out with your 4,000-pound body. 

    And then—chomp

    Your jaw is one of nature’s most powerful weapons. You have more than 300 teeth. You can easily kill creatures many times your size.

    But you are not just a killing machine. You are a highly intelligent and curious fish. You can swim more than 10,000 miles in a year. You are incredibly important to the world’s oceans.

    And now, you are in danger.

    Picture this: You are the most feared creature in the ocean, the great white shark. You spread fear wherever you go. Fish and dolphins scatter when you come near. Even six-ton killer whales are not safe from you.

    You can kill any creature in the sea.

    You attack by surprise. You strike from below, speeding toward your prey. You knock them out with your two-ton body.

    And then—chomp.

    Your jaw is strong. You have more than 300 teeth. You can kill huge creatures.

    But you are not just a killing machine. You are a smart and curious fish. You can swim more than 10,000 miles in a year. You are very important to the world’s oceans.

    And now, you are in danger.

    Imagine that you’re the most fearsome creature in the ocean: the great white shark. You spread terror and panic wherever you go. Fish and dolphins scatter when you approach. Even six-ton killer whales aren’t safe around you.

    That’s because you’re capable of killing every animal in the sea.

    You attack by surprise. You strike from below, speeding toward your prey like a torpedo. You knock them out with your 4,000-pound body.

    And then—chomp.

    Your jaw is one of nature’s most powerful weapons, and you have more than 300 teeth. You can easily kill creatures many times your size.

    But you’re not just a killing machine. You’re a highly intelligent and curious fish. You can swim more than 10,000 miles in a year. You are incredibly important to the world’s oceans.

Vanishing Sharks 

    Sharks are one of Earth’s oldest and strongest creatures. For millions of years, they have survived with nothing to fear. But in recent years that has changed. Around the world, sharks are being hunted and brutally killed. Roughly 100 million sharks are killed every year. 

    That’s right: 100 million sharks. Every year. 

    In some parts of the world, sharks have vanished. Many species are facing extinction. The great white, tiger, bull, and hammerhead sharks are all in particular danger. 

    What fierce creatures are killing the world’s sharks? They don’t have incredible strength and fanged teeth. They don’t even live in the sea. 

    They are humans.

    Sharks are one of Earth’s oldest and strongest creatures. For millions of years, they have had nothing to fear. But now that has changed. Sharks are being hunted and killed. About 100 million sharks are killed every year.

    That’s right: 100 million sharks. Every year.

    In some parts of the world, sharks have vanished. Many species are facing extinction. The great white, tiger, bull, and hammerhead sharks are all in particular danger.

    What creatures are killing sharks? They don’t have great strength. They don’t have fanged teeth. They don’t even live in the sea.

    They are humans.

    Sharks are among Earth’s oldest and strongest creatures. For millions of years, they have survived with nothing to fear. But in recent years that has changed. Around the world, sharks are being hunted and brutally killed. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed every year.

    That’s right: 100 million sharks, every year.

    In some parts of the world, sharks have vanished. Many species are facing extinction. The great white, tiger, bull, and hammerhead sharks are all in particular danger.

    What ferocious creatures are killing the world’s sharks? They don’t have incredible strength and fanged teeth. They don’t even live in the ocean.

    They’re humans.

Killed for Soup 

wang song/Shutterstock.com

Shark Fin Soup  
Fishermen sell shark fins at marketplaces—often for thousands of dollars each. These fins are used in shark fin soup, which is served at fancy dinners and weddings in China.

    Humans have been hunting sharks for thousands of years. Native Americans used shark teeth for carving. In the 1800s, Americans used shark liver oil to waterproof their ships. 

    But in the 1990s, humans began hunting sharks in large numbers. Sharks were mainly hunted for their fins, the key ingredient in shark fin soup. This soup is a delicacy in China, where a single bowl can cost $300. 

    Shark fin soup is watery and filled with stringy strands of shark fin. It’s not very tasty. Yet shark fin soup is served to important guests at fancy dinners and weddings. 

    It used to be that only a small number of Chinese people could afford the soup. But since the 1980s, millions of Chinese people have grown wealthier. They can afford fancy cars, designer clothing—and shark fin soup. 

    As the demand for shark fins has grown, the price has gone up too. The fins of a great white shark can sell for thousands of dollars each.

    Humans have been hunting sharks for a long time. Native Americans used shark teeth for carving. In the 1800s, Americans used shark liver oil to waterproof their ships.

    But in the 1990s, humans began to hunt sharks in large numbers. Sharks were hunted mainly for their fins. The fins were used to make shark fin soup. This soup is a delicacy in China. One bowl can cost $300.

    Shark fin soup is watery. It has stringy strands of shark fin. It’s not very tasty. But it’s served to honored guests at fancy events.

    In the past, only a small number of Chinese people could afford the soup. But since the 1980s, people in China have grown richer. Many can afford fancy cars and designer clothes. And they can afford shark fin soup.

    As the demand for shark fins has grown, the price has gone up. The fins of a great white shark can sell for thousands of dollars each.

    Humans have been hunting sharks for thousands of years. Native Americans used shark teeth for carving, and in the 1800s, Americans used shark liver oil to waterproof their ships.

    But in the 1990s, humans began hunting sharks in larger numbers. Sharks were hunted primarily for their fins, the key ingredient in shark fin soup. This soup is a delicacy in China, where a single bowl can cost $300.

    Shark fin soup is watery and filled with stringy strands of shark fin. It’s not especially appetizing. Yet shark fin soup is served to distinguished guests at fancy dinners and weddings.

    In the past, only a small number of Chinese people could afford the soup. But since the 1980s, millions of Chinese people have grown wealthier. They can afford fancy cars, designer clothing—and shark fin soup.

    As the demand for shark fins has increased, the price has risen too. The fins of a great white shark can sell for thousands of dollars each.

e-Photography/Hirose/SeaPics.com

An Ocean Disaster

    Every day, there are thousands of shark-fishing boats out on the sea. Some of these boats can catch 100 sharks in a single day. Many fishermen don’t even bring the sharks back to shore. They hack off their fins at sea—then leave the sharks to die in the ocean. 

    For years, scientists have been warning that sharks could disappear forever. This would be tragic for sharks, of course. But it would also be a disaster for the ocean’s ecosystem. Sharks are the apex predator—the animal at the top of the ocean’s food chain. 

    The loss of an apex predator would affect almost every other species of fish. Some fish populations would boom and others would vanish. Humans who depend on the ocean for food would be affected too.

Every day, there are thousands of shark-fishing boats out on the sea. Some of these boats can catch 100 sharks in one day. Many fishermen don’t even bring the sharks back to shore. They hack off their fins. Then they leave the sharks to die in the ocean.

For years, experts have warned that sharks could disappear for good. This would be bad for sharks. It would also be a disaster for the ocean’s ecosystem. Sharks are the apex predator. That means they’re at the top of the ocean’s food chain.

The loss of an apex predator would affect almost every species of fish. Some fish populations would boom. Others would vanish. Humans who depend on the ocean for food would be affected too.

    Every day, there are thousands of shark-fishing boats out on the sea. Some of these boats can catch 100 sharks in a single day. Many fishermen don’t even bother to bring the sharks back to shore—they simply hack off their fins at sea and leave the sharks to die in the ocean.

    For years, scientists have been warning that sharks could disappear permanently. This would be tragic for sharks, of course—but it would also be catastrophic for the ocean’s ecosystem. Sharks are the apex predator—the animal at the top of the ocean’s food chain.

    The loss of an apex predator would affect almost every other species of fish. Some fish populations would boom, and others would vanish. Humans who depend on the ocean for food would be affected too.

Amanda Nicholls/Shutterstock.com (Shark); StudioSmart/Shutterstock.com (Ray); Jane Rix/Shutterstock.com (Scallops)

Changing Minds

    Many wildlife groups are working to save sharks. But it hasn’t been easy. Every year, about 100 humans are bitten by sharks. People read terrifying stories about these attacks. They look at a photo of a shark—the blood-red mouth, the sharp teeth—and see only a deadly monster.  

    But 75 million people swim in the ocean every year. Given the number of people in the water, shark attacks are extremely rare. A beachgoer is far more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than by a shark. 

    Still, wildlife groups have had to find creative ways to get people to care about sharks. One group, WildAid, came up with a smart idea. WildAid’s leaders realized that few Chinese people knew that sharks were dying in huge numbers—for soup. 

    So WildAid created ads with Chinese celebrities. The celebrities explained that the world’s sharks were in danger.

    The ads were hugely successful. In 2012, China banned shark fin soup from official dinners. Now, many young Chinese people refuse to serve the soup at their weddings. 

    Experts say that the demand for shark fins is much lower now. In some parts of China, shark fin sales have dropped by 80 percent.

    Wildlife groups are working to save sharks. But it’s not easy. Every year, about 100 humans are bitten by sharks. People read about these attacks. They look at a photo of a shark and see only a monster. 

    But 75 million people swim in the ocean every year. Given that number, shark attacks are rare. You’re more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than by a shark.

    Still, it’s hard to get people to care about sharks. One group, WildAid, came up with a smart idea. Few Chinese people knew how many sharks were being killed for soup.

    So WildAid made ads. In the ads, Chinese celebrities explained that the world’s sharks were in danger.

    The ads worked. In 2012, China banned shark fin soup from official dinners. Now many people won’t serve it at their weddings.

    Experts say that the demand for shark fins has dropped. In some parts of China, shark fin sales are down by 80 percent.

    Many wildlife organizations are working to save sharks, but it hasn’t been easy. Every year, about 100 humans are bitten by sharks, and accounts of these attacks can be terrifying. People look at a photo of a shark—the blood-red mouth, the sharp teeth—and see only a deadly monster.

    But considering that 75 million people swim in the ocean every year, shark attacks are extremely rare. A beachgoer is far more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than by a shark.

    Still, wildlife organizations have had to find creative ways to persuade people to care about sharks. One group, WildAid, came up with an ingenious idea. WildAid’s leaders realized that few Chinese people were aware that sharks were dying in huge numbers—for soup.

    To raise awareness of the problem, WildAid created advertisements in which Chinese celebrities explained that the world’s sharks were in danger.

    The ads were tremendously successful. In 2012, China banned shark fin soup from official dinners. Today, many young Chinese people are refusing to serve the soup at their weddings.

    Experts report that the demand for shark fins is considerably lower now. In some parts of China, shark fin sales have decreased by 80 percent.

Danger—and Hope

    As demand for shark fin soup drops, the price of the fins does too. That means people will make less money selling shark fins—and have fewer reasons to hunt sharks. 

    So imagine again that you are a great white shark. Things are improving, but you are not totally out of danger yet. 

    For now, stay away from fishing boats with their long fishing lines and hooks. Steer clear of beaches packed with splashing swimmers.

    But hang on to hope that one day soon, humans will no longer want to hurt you. Then you can remain the most powerful creature in the ocean for millions of years to come. 

    As demand for shark fins drops, the price does too. People will make less money selling shark fins. So there’s less reason to hunt sharks.

    Imagine again that you’re a great white shark. Things are better. But you’re not safe yet.

    Stay away from fishing boats. Steer clear of beaches packed with swimmers.

    But don’t lose hope. One day soon, humans might not want to hurt you. Then you can stay the most feared creature in the sea for many years to come.

    As demand for shark fin soup drops, the price of the fins does too. That means people will make less money selling shark fins—and have less incentive to hunt sharks.

    So imagine again that you’re a great white shark. Things are improving, but you aren’t totally out of danger yet.

    For now, stay away from fishing boats with their long fishing lines and hooks, and avoid beaches packed with splashing swimmers.

    But hang on to hope that someday soon, humans will no longer want to hurt you. Then you can remain the most powerful creature in the ocean for millions of years to come.

RIE ISHII/AFP/Getty Images

Fighting Back  
Young people in Japan protest against a restaurant that sells shark fin soup. The delicacy is served in many Asian nations—not just China.

ACTIVITY

Finding Text Evidence

You’ve just read “Saving the Great White Monster”. Now do this activity to help you better understand the article.

Tip: Text evidence means details in a story that support an answer, or show that it is true.

What to do: Use text evidence—or details from the article—to answer the questions below. We did the first one for you.

You’ve just read “Saving the Great White Monster”. Now do this activity to help you better understand the article.

Tip: Text evidence means details in a story that support an answer, or show that it is true.

What to do: Use text evidence—or details from the article—to answer the questions below. We did the first one for you.

You’ve just read “Saving the Great White Monster”. Now do this activity to help you better understand the article.

Tip: Text evidence means details in a story that support an answer, or show that it is true.

What to do: Use text evidence—or details from the article—to answer the questions below. We did the first one for you.

Why did people start hunting sharks in large numbers?  

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Killed for Soup.”

Answer: People started hunting large numbers of sharks for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup.

Why did people start hunting sharks in large numbers?  

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Killed for Soup.”

Answer: People started hunting large numbers of sharks for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup.

Why did people start hunting sharks in large numbers?  

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Killed for Soup.”

Answer: People started hunting large numbers of sharks for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup.

How much are shark fins worth?  

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Killed for Soup.”

How much are shark fins worth?  

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Killed for Soup.”

How much are shark fins worth?  

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Killed for Soup.”

What is shark fishing like on a typical day? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “An Ocean Disaster.”

What is shark fishing like on a typical day? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “An Ocean Disaster.”

What is shark fishing like on a typical day? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “An Ocean Disaster.”

Why is it hard to make people care about sharks? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Changing Minds.”