Miguel del Pino: Cabrera, the controversy of the great shark

The 28th of June at ten o’clock in the morning a spokesman for the expedition Alristak that investigates marine ecosystems mediterranean next to the National Park of Cabrera published the images and videos of an alleged white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) just eight miles from the boundary of said Park.

The saga of movies of Steven Spielberg in connection with imaginary murderous monsters that are similar to this species has done much harm to the scientific truth about sharks and becomes front page news any sighting, real or alleged, in waters close to populated places.

The identification of a specimen of five meters allegedly belonging to the species “white shark” had, in principle, with the guarantee of the scientists involved in this project, led by the biologist Ricardo Sagarminaga Van Buiten, but soon has been called into question by other international experts who have accessed the images.

The way of moving this large shark is too agile and fast to really be a white shark, say some critics, such as Gonzalo Murientes, of the University of Porto. These data can be recorded by it is not only photographs, but also of a video filming.

Of course we are not from here who are qualified to take sides, but the majority opinion today in the scientific Community is that this can be a shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), this species yes it was decades ago, abundant in the Mediterranean, although their number has been greatly reduced to make them to fear for their conservation in the waters of the Mare Nostrum.

The mako sharks were caught in nets and traps when once abounded, and they tended not to get too close to the coast; their formidable jaws were sold as a souvenir, which comes to prove that the main enemy of the shark is not another man.

Of really to be a white shark, the shark filmed by the expedition of Sagarminaga would be a rarity, because for decades that is not confirmed scientifically as a precedent in waters off the balearic islands; in 1976, there was the appointment of the capture of a specimen by the fisherman Ximo López at Cap Farrutx, and the last quote refers to the area of communication with the Atlantic, where he was a specimen caught in the nets of a tuna of the year 2016.

There are two sharks of noticeable size common on our shores: one of them is the above-mentioned Mako and the other Blue, the latter sometimes exists in the proximity of the coast and therefore involved in legends of course danger to the bathers.

Were it not for the aforementioned films in the series “Shark”, the filming of the scientists in waters off the balearic islands would be a scientific data more of the many that are published daily, but speak or write of sharks presents always the risk of sliding towards sensationalism and, in fact, accuses the expedition Alristak 2018 have released the data prematurely.

We hope to refer very quickly to the dangerous species, or the less annoying of the fauna of the Spanish, but let’s say, especially for cinephiles, that the sharks are not among them. The european tourists who venture to the shores of tropical american usually impresionarles many of the nets that are installed on certain beaches to not to approach the sharks. In the iberian coast is not required this caution.

Returning to the sharks say that they are not fish, but Chondrichthyans (castellanizando the name): this class includes marine vertebrates from cartilaginous skeleton that despite the remoteness of its appearance in the evolutionary scale, are so well designed that they had not been displaced by the appearance of the true fish, they have a bony skeleton; it is human persecution which threatens today to some species.

Excesses like the capture with network to mutilate the shark, amputando its dorsal fin and leaving after the dog dying and helpless, I could not be described as precisely of sustainable fisheries. Despite what some think desaprensivos, and marine resources including sharks, are not inexhaustible.

It is true that some species of sharks they are a regular part of the marine fauna usually the subject of fishing, such as the dogfish or hammerhead sharks, but the supposed “delicacy” of shark fin soup, popular in the eastern markets, has been devastating to sharks of other latitudes.

Let’s not forget that the urban legends, such as phobias towards certain species that can result from stories of fiction, they can be placed at the head of the dangers that arrive to threaten them. Let the Science be imposed on the sensationalism.

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