Increasing human pressures on whale sharks and slender hammerhead sharks are placing these species at high risk of extinction. Both are now listed as Endangered on the new IUCN Red List.
The population of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), the world’s largest fish, has decreased over 50% within the last 75 years. As these sharks move slowly, they are often killed by ship propellers, in addition to being caught by fishermen.
Southern China and Oman are the main locations where they are fished, despite conservation action in the Philippines, India, and Taiwan to end large-scale fishing of whale sharks in their countries. In addition, these sharks are frequently caught by tuna fishing boats.
Unregulated fishing is also to blame for the quick decline in slender hammerhead shark (Eusphyra blochii) populations. Their irregular shape causes them to easily become tangled up in fishing nets. This species is no longer Near Threatened, but is now listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The population of slender hammerhead sharks is unknown, but a recent survey of fish markets in Indonesia found only one among approximately 20,000 sharks of other species.
From September 1st to September 10th, the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 will announce a full update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, including assessments of many other species.
Fortunately, the rise of dive tourism in many areas is making these fish more valuable alive in various locations including the Philippines, Belize, and Mexico. Although the whale shark is protected in all of these areas, they migrate long distances out of the safe areas and into the fishing zones.