enn.com — Federal scientists want permission to kill Galapagos sharks in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in an effort to save the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Scientists argue that the monk seal is globally endangered but the sharks are not.
I can understand if scientists want to save the monk seal from extinction, but killing other species to, later, put them in danger of extinction is what I don't get. The reason the monk seals are in danger is because of human hands. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), mothers take care of their pups for six weeks. During that entire time, they do not leave the beach even to eat. Instead, they live off of fat that they have stored up over the previous year and feed their pups with a fat rich milk. Usually seals can be found with their pups on very remote beaches. However, recent births have been reported in the main Hawaiian Islands including Oahu, Kawai, and Molokai. Human disturbance has been identified as the primary factor in the decline of the species. In fact, if humans come too near a mother seal too often, she will abandon her pup and go out to sea. Unfortunately, this usually means death for the pup. Also, seals often get tangled in fishermen's nets and other trash in the oceans. It has been found that the fish that seals eat have been overfished by fishermen.
We need to keep in mind that sharks are essentials predators which help maintain the balance throughout the ecosystem. Eliminating sharks would have wider effects than just the monk seal. There are other ways we can prevent the extinction of the monk seal. The main threat to monk seals seems to be human intrusion into habitats and over-fishing. Certain beaches can be closed, so people do not get too close to seals raising pups or impose stiffer penalties for disturbing seals. The numbers of fish that can be caught in the areas where we have monk seals can be limit. We have to look at the bigger picture and find other ways to save the monk seals without the unintended consequences of unnecessary killing off a different species.