The world needs coral reefs, and coral reefs need sharks

Grey reef sharks swimming among convict surgeon fish. Fakarava, French Polynesia © Paul Mckenzie / WWF
Caribbean reef shark with barrel sponge. Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras, Central America © Antonio Busiello / WWF-US

Restoring depleted and declining reef shark populations will require that fishing pressure be reduced, and off limits in some areas or in some seasons. With care, this should benefit other large fish like the groupers and large jack, and since these are important food fishes, this would benefit coastal communities too.

Grey reef sharks swimming against the current beside a coral reef wall. Fakarava, French Polynesia © Paul Mckenzie / WWF
Bluespotted ribbontail stingray (Taeniura lymma). © Philipp Kanstinger / WWF

Efforts to minimize the threats to coral reefs, on which hundreds of millions of people depend, are rightly focused on reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases. But what if protecting sharks helped build the resilience of coral reefs?

Tiger shark swimming over a seagrass meadow in the Bahamas © Marion Kraschl / Shutterstock

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