Sharks stole the show during the Super Bowl Half Time Show. Flanking Katy Perry, two dancers in plush shark costumes cavorted through her performance of “Teenage Dream.” In particular the shark on the left, deemed “Left Shark” by the internet and media, captured our attention with his awkward dance moves. These soft and friendly sharks are a sharp contrast to the famous depictions of sharks in “Jaws” and more recently, “Sharknado” where they are portrayed as unrelenting and scheming predators in pursuit of human flesh.
Movies like these have distorted the public’s perception of the predator making them one of the most misunderstood and imperiled animal groups in the world. To increase your understanding of and appreciation for sharks, join us this spring for “Unlocking the Mysteries of Sharks.”
Naturalist Glenn Olsen will be presenting one of the lectures in this five-session course entitled, “The Gulf of Mexico as an Incubator of Marine Life.” He offers some insights into the sharks that are our closest neighbors. “Although the population or numbers of a species are not great, we have a wide variety of species of sharks that use the Gulf at some point in their life. Not all species are present year round and some are found along the coast and others in deeper waters.” He reminds us that none of these species “are a real threat to humans.”
This course also hopes to raise awareness of the growing threats sharks face from humans. Olsen elaborates: “One idea that I would like for people to know is that for many of sharks that occur in the Gulf of Mexico, their populations are vulnerable or near threatened. So if the trend continues, we will have many of them entering into the endangered category. Many species of shark populations have declined by 50 to 80 percent in the last 30 years due primarily to overfishing, habitat loss and use of the wasteful longlines for fishing.” In this light, sharks are the victims.
Neither inherently evil nor cuddly-cute, sharks have always generated distorted and inaccurate press. To learn more about the species and their vital role in our ecosystem, and help shatter the shark stereotype, register today. The final session of this course will be held inside the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Shark! exhibition.
Laura Bailey, Marketing Coordinator