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Top 10 Shark Conservation Projects

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by: Josh Clark
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Charting the Decline of the Sawfish (and Other Sharks)
DCI | Michael Melford/Getty Images

Tracking the decline of one shark species can illuminate the plight all sharks face. Groups like the Ocean Conservancy, for example, helped to protect the Atlantic smalltooth sawfish from extinction. Because of its odd form, the sawfish shark has long been a particularly popular sport fish; anglers like to mount it. It's also valued by humans for its meat and its liver oil, which is used as a traditional remedy.

The sawtooth's habitat around U.S. coastal waters ranged from Texas all the way to New York as recently as 1900. Because of overfishing, habitat destruction and a lack of government protection, however, the population declined dramatically throughout the last half of the 20th century until the sharks only lived off the Florida coast. Thanks to the investigation into the decline of the sawfish (as well as a petition filed by the Ocean Conservancy) the Atlantic smalltooth sawfish was listed as an endangered species in 2003 and now enjoys federal protection in the United States.

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