Defend Truth

Welcome to Maverickids

The online extension of our DM168 newspaper’s popular Maverickids insert! We’re excited to bring the Maverickids experience to the digital world.


Welcome to Maverickids, the online extension of our DM168 newspaper's popular Maverickids insert!
We're excited to bring the Maverickids experience to the digital world.

Believe it or not, sharks are not are not the scary villains they’re often made out to be – nor do they have scary music accompanying them when they swim by.

Sharks not only play a very important role in our ocean’s health, but they are also not out to get humans – in fact, many shark species are in decline, and how we protect ourselves from them might well be contributing to that.

When we share the ocean with marine life it’s important for us to learn how we can coexist in a way that keeps us safe, and doesn’t put their lives in danger either – it’s up to us to be their guardians and protectors. 

By learning about them, respecting their home, and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure that these majestic creatures thrive for generations to come.

So, let’s dive into (excuse the pun;) the deep blue sea with awe and respect for these incredible creatures – the guardians of the ocean! 

See you next time,

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Sharks are not the bad guys everyone thinks they are
Movies and stories have often portrayed sharks as scary and hungry monsters that love to prey on humans. But, in reality, they are really not that interested in us. Here’s why we don’t need to fear them
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What’s on their menu?
They might look smooth, but shark skin actually feels like sandpaper? Shark skin feels exactly like sandpaper because it is made up of tiny teeth-like structures called placoid scales, also known as dermal denticles. These scales point towards the tail and help reduce friction from surrounding water when the shark swims.
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Did you know?
On average, there are only five unprovoked fatalities from shark incidents around the world per year.
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Sharks need our help!
Despite their importance in the ecosystem, many shark species are in danger of declining - and a lot of that is down to us. “Sharks maintain balance. They’re important for ecosystem function and resilience,” says Sarah from Shark Spotters. “And you know, just because we occasionally have shark incidents – which are very tragic and really traumatic – it doesn’t mean that we should be getting rid of sharks... We do still need them in our oceans.”
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Threats to sharks
Overfishing and bycatch: Overfishing is a big problem in the oceans. Many sharks are caught accidentally in fishing nets and hooks meant for other fish. This is called bycatch, and it’s like catching the wrong train home!

Shark finning: Some people catch sharks just for their fins, which are then used to make shark fin soup. This is cruel and unsustainable. It’s like cutting off a bird’s wings and leaving it to die!

Shark nets: Some areas, like in KwaZulu- Natal, use shark nets to prevent sharks from getting close to beaches. Unfortunately, these nets harm not only sharks, but other marine animals too. This is because any marine animal can get caught in them, including sea turtles. Imagine getting caught in a big fence in front of your home - you wouldn’t like that, right?
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Better ways to protect ourselves from sharks without harming them
Exclusion nets: These nets have smaller mesh so that no large shark can become entangled. “The exclusion barrier is designed to have no environmental impact,” says Sarah, “and it provides a safe swimming space for people while allowing sharks to carry on with their business.”

Shark spotting: A shark spotter sits up in a high place with binoculars and scans the ocean, looking for sharks and other marine activity. If they see a shark, the spotter will alert another spotter or a lifeguard on the beach, who will call the swimmers out of the ocean.
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Why are sharks important for our ecosystem?
Sharks are like superheroes, protecting the balance of marine life.

Top of the food chain: As apex predators, sharks maintain the species below them in the food chain and also act as an indicator for ocean health. So, if scientists see changes in shark behaviour or population size, they know there’s something wrong further down the food chain.

Healthy fish populations: Sharks help maintain healthy fish populations by hunting weak or sick individuals. It’s as if they have a secret superhero power to detect and remove sick fish from the ocean.

Behaviour influencers: Sharks influence the behaviour of other animals. This creates a positive ripple effect on the entire ecosystem, making sure everything stays in harmony.
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Keep safe when swimming in the ocean
Safety is always the number one priority when we’re in the water. When you go swimming, always remember to follow these safety tips: Swim in designated areas. Stick to the zones where lifeguards can watch over you.

Make use of a buddy system. Always swim with a buddy because white sharks are more likely to identify a solitary individual as potential prey.

Swim in the day and avoid cloudy waters. Avoid entering the ocean when it is murky, during darkness or at twilight when sharks rely on their other senses to locate potential prey rather than their vision.

Avoid splashing. When you splash around too much, it might resemble the movements of an animal of prey and sharks might investigate.

Stay calm if you spot a shark. Assess the situation. Do not panic! Leave the water in a calm and swift but smooth manner. Alert the lifeguards or shark spotters.
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Did you know?
On average, there are only five unprovoked fatalities from shark incidents around the world per year.

Mistaken identity: Most shark incidents with humans happen by mistake. Sharks might mistake a surfer or swimmer for their regular prey because of splashing or surfboard movements. According to the World Wildlife Fund, sharks involved in attacks on humans are often hunting for similar-sized prey such as seals or Dolphins.

Curiosity, not hunger: Sharks are curious and use their mouths to explore things, in the same way we use our hands. They’re just checking things out, like underwater detectives.
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  • Marine biologists study sharks and their behaviour to better understand them and how their environment – and humans – are affecting them.

  • Conservationists work to create and implement plans to protect shark habitats and promote sustainable fishing practices.

  • Shark awareness or beach safety groups such as Shark Spotters help swimmers, paddlers and surfers to share the ocean safely with sharks.

  • Wildlife photographers/videographers capture stunning images and footage of sharks to raise awareness about their conservation. South Africa is actually a hot spot for videographers (like those whose work you see on the Discovery channel) who come to see our white sharks.
 

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE WITH OUR SHARK SAVVY QUIZ

If you enjoyed this quiz, check out the MavericKids Annual Activity Book (ages 8-12). 

It’s packed with 240 pages of educational content, fun activities, games, and kids’ jokes. Plus, for every book sold, we donate one to Gift of the Givers to help children in need.