Sharks and rays may look like visitors from prehistory, but they behave like humans in one surprising way: they invest a lot of energy into just a few children. And thanks in part to their parenting style, many of these species may not survive the human fishing industry.
One quarter of all the world’s cartilaginous fish species – known as chondrichthyans – are now threatened, reports a study published in the journal eLife. The class includes sharks and rays, as well as chimaeras such as the little-studied but impressively serrated sawfish, which is now critically endangered.
“Because of their rarity, and the fact that [sawfish] had no particular commercial or sport-fishing value, studies on them were largely non-existent,” says George Burgess, an ichthyologist who co-authored the report. “Unfortunately we, as scientists, work on a largely economic basis, and our studies have to be funded.”
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