In this intricately orchestrated world put to life by mother nature, each and every organism plays its role. No matter the size or their role, even the slightest disruption can ripple into a catastrophic change. Sharks, one of the fiercest predators in the territory below water, also have their roles to play. They are considered a keystone species – with a significant effect on the ecosystem – and rightly so. After all, they occupy a position among the top predators that help to keep the food web intact. For example, according to National Geographic, a 2007 study noted that the deficiency of great white sharks, led by their loss in the Atlantic Ocean, caused the number of cownose rays to shoot up. It resulted in a drastic decrease in the population of scallops, clams, and oysters.
However, this particular predator population is gradually plummeting and can gravely affect oceans’ overall health and cleanliness. Read on to know how Seagrass, especially temperate seagrass, is a highly vital element of the oceans. It helps keep the water clear, provides shelter and food to a plethora of species, and slows down the water current. But, most importantly, seagrass traps carbon dioxide by stabilizing the sediments that store the greenhouse gas.
Sharks, such as Tiger sharks, keep the herbivores at bay in the tropical seagrass meadows. Tropical Seagrass is less carbon-absorbing than temperate. However, due to the decline, the herbivores, such as sea turtles and dugongs, will start overgrazing, and a detrimental loss of seagrass can be seen. Such a loss can adversely affect the efforts to lessen global climate change. The loss can prolong to a point where the seagrass population can completely collapse into being non-existence. Not just this, sharks also store carbon in their bodies, and reducing the population of sharks can result in the ocean’s capacity to store carbon dropping steeply.
While balancing the ecosystem, sharks also provide protection to Coral Reefs, an extremely valuable element of the marine ecosystem. Small predators that feed on herbivorous fishes move freely in the absence of sharks. This, in turn, can increase the prevalence of algae over the coral reefs, which can destroy the reefs.
Sharks play a crucial role in reducing carbon dioxide out of the environment and slowing global climate change. Thus, conserving their population might be one of the first crucial steps that we need to take to save our planet from the evils of Global Warming.