Sharks

Top 10 Shark Conservation Projects

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by: Josh Clark
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Studying Whale Sharks in Public Aquariums
DCI | Barry Williams/Getty Images

Some of the largest aquariums in the world have dedicated much of their research and funding to studying and conserving the world's whale sharks. For example, the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List has declared the elusive and little-understood shark species vulnerable. By studying the sharks kept in captivity, and participating in and funding research in the sharks' natural habitat, aquariums in such diverse locations as Georgia, Taiwan and Okinawa hope to protect these sharks by better understanding how humanity affects them.

It's a bit ironic to support animals in the wild by keeping them in captivity. Whale sharks in aquariums, however, are most often captured by fishermen who opted to sell them to aquariums rather than shark meat wholesalers. Sharks displayed in captivity raise awareness by their very situation. At the Georgia Aquarium in the U.S., for example, more than 5 million people who may not have otherwise been exposed to a whale shark have been since the aquarium opened in 2005.

By learning of the dangers humans pose to whale sharks while encountering them face to face, aquarium guests can become informed and concerned activists.

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