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Did you know that there are 440 different species of sharks in our oceans? These animals range from the mighty great white shark down to the strange and tiny dwarf lantern shark

But, sharks are misunderstood. Many see them as bloodthirsty man-eaters, which is a myth that has been busted time and again. Here are four reasons why sharks are our friends, not foes.

1. Sharks keep the food chain balanced. 

Sharks are usually at the top of the food chain, meaning their role as an apex predator keeps the populations of other species in check. When sharks are hunted, the populations of their prey, like rays, can skyrocket. If this happens, smaller species can be wiped out which can take years to be repaired. 

2. Humans aren’t on sharks’ menu.

Although shark bites do happen, they’re typically the result of a case of mistaken identity: A shark thinks a swimmer or boater is prey, investigates with a bite, and swims off once it realizes it wasn’t what it thought it was. Encounters can happen, which is why it's important to always respect the locals when you head into the water. 

3. Sharks should fear humans, not the other way around. 

Humans kills an estimated 100 million sharks every single year, while sharks kill an average of six people annually. Sharks are killed accidentally, such as winding up as bycatch when fishing for other species, and on purpose, when they’re finned alive and left to drown. Their fins are then sold to be used in shark fin soup, a delicacy in China. 

4. Sharks get us talking about ocean conservation.

The increase of white sharks heading up to Cape Cod every summer has created a buzz around the region. Tourists flock to our favorite summer destination in hopes of seeing a white shark from a safe distance. Shoppers stock up on white shark souvenirs. 

This might seem like just a boost to the local economy, but it’s way more than that. Talking about the Cape’s marine ecosystem gives us the opportunity to examine how humans are impacting the ocean: overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change are all taking a toll on our seas. 

Show your support for sharks with our new Sharks are Friends Sticker Pack.