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Why Are Sharks Important to the Ecosystem? | BeCause Tees

Why Are Sharks Important to the Ecosystem?

Sharks play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. Although they may have an intimidating reputation, these magnificent creatures are essential not only for the health of our oceans and the creatures that occupy them, but also for the overall well-being of our planet. Here's why sharks are important to the ecosystem.

Shark in the ocean  

5 Ways Sharks Are Important to the Ecosystem

1. A Keystone Species

Sharks are a keystone species, meaning their presence is vital for maintaining health and balance in their ecosystem. The loss of a keystone species would have devastating consequences for their ecosystem, which is why it's so important we monitor the changing population numbers of sharks, particularly endangered shark species

2.  Population Control

    As apex predators, sharks occupy the top of the underwater food chain, regulating the populations of various marine species below them. By preying on smaller fish and marine animals, sharks help to control their numbers, preventing the overpopulation of certain species.  

    Different shark species eat a variety of marine creatures, including:

    • Fish, such as salmon, tuna, and bass
    • Seals
    • Sea lions
    • Dolphins
    • Mollusks, such as squid, oysters, clams

    By controlling populations of many ocean-dwelling species, sharks help to ensure there is a balanced ecosystem and they help to maintain biodiversity.

    Hammerhead shark

    3. They Assist With Natural Selection 

      Sharks selectively prey on weak, sick, and dying creatures. By playing their part in natural selection, sharks help to prevent disease from spreading and keep populations of a large variety of species strong and healthy. In this way, sharks help to maintain the overall stability and resilience of the ecosystem.

      4. Controlling Mesopredator Populations

        In addition to their direct prey, sharks also control the populations of mesopredators - smaller predators further down the food chain. By keeping mesopredator populations in check, the populations of their prey is then also controlled, preserving the balance in the ecosystem. If shark populations significantly decline due to the threats they face, mesopredators may thrive, which would lead to a cascade effect on their prey, thereby disrupting the entire food web.

        Tiger Shark

        5. Preventing Habitat Loss

          Sharks contribute to the health of important habitats such as coral reefs and seagrass beds. Sharks keep the populations of herbivorous species in check, which in turn controls the levels of algae in reefs, allowing the coral to survive. Without high enough numbers of herbivores, algae can begin to dominate and threaten the entire coral reef habitat.

          We may think sharks are intimidating - so do other ocean-dwellers! The presence of sharks has an impact on the grazing of many creatures, including fish and sea turtles, which assists in maintaing healthy coral reefs and seagrass beds. 

          6. Assisting in the Fight Against Climate Change

            Perhaps a lesser-known but important role of sharks in the ecosystem is their contribution to mitigating climate change. By preventing the overgrazing of seagrass meadows, sharks assist in their growth and preservation. Similarly to kelp forests, seagrass meadows are carbon sinks, and according to a Live Science article, they're vital in helping to prevent climate change - in fact, seagrass meadows store more carbon than forests on land. Because sharks help to maintain seagrass meadows, they're an extremely important piece of the puzzle in helping to fight climate change. 


            Not just magnificent creatures, sharks are important to the ecosystem in many ways. By protecting sharks, we not only ensure the well-being of these creatures themselves, but also ensure the survival of entire marine ecosystems. Shop hand-drawn shark designs in our Sharks Collection to show your appreciation for these incredible animals!

            Shark shirts

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