The aquatic world presents the widest diversity of habitats, so it’s no surprise that fishes have come to present the widest diversity of vertebrate species.
From the darkest depths to tropical shores, there are more than 33,000 species of living fishes, accounting for more than half of the extant vertebrate diversity on Earth.
For years, Curator of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Marine Vertebrate collection, Phil Hastings, has been immersed in the systematics and phylogeny of fishes, their marine biogeography, and the ecology and behavioral evolution of fishes, and takes you on a tour of what makes this most diverse array of animals.
On the surface, it might seem like an ocean without sharks would be a more enjoyable place. But, these predators play a very important role in the ocean ecosystem and they need our protection just like many other ocean dwelling creatures.
Sharks have been at the top of the food chain for hundreds of millions of years, but today their populations are in danger because of human activities, such as overfishing and finning (this is when people catch sharks, remove the fins, and dump the carcass overboard).
Andrew P. Nosal, Ph. D, Birch Aquarium’s new DeLaCour Postdoctoral Fellow for Ecology and Conservation, shares his shark expertise with the Perspectives on Ocean Science series in order to explain that all sharks are not the evil villains seen in movies, but are essential in maintaining a balanced ocean.