National Geographic : 1968 Feb
impersonal level, the shark's inroads on com mercial and sport fisheries, and you have a malefactor of some consequence. But it was not until fairly recently that science organ ized to study sharks and seek ways of con trolling them. Disasters at Sea Spur Shark Research Blood-chilling mass attacks on survivors of torpedoed ships and crashed airplanes in World War II gave the initial impetus to the search. After the war, interest in sharks not only increased but broadened: We not only wanted to know how to protect swimmers and divers; we also sought an insight into the undoubtedly large part sharks play in the ecology of the seas. The postwar human population explosion spurred this interest in sharks. One day, we realized, earth's soil might no longer support 226 us all, and we must exploit the waters-71 percent of the world's surface-or perish. Divers in unprecedented numbers began searching the depths for oil and metals and ways to farm the oceans, in which are locked vast quantities of protein yet to be tapped; some worked from self-contained sea bottom communities pioneered by Edwin A. Link, the U. S. Navy, and Jacques-Yves Cousteau.* Encounters with sharks became everyday occurrences. Plainly, more knowledge of the fish was needed. In 1958, the American Insti tute of Biological Sciences, Washington, D. C., agreed to meet the challenge. It offered to serve as an international clearinghouse and repository for shark knowledge, and formed *See, in the GEOGRAPHIC: "Working for Weeks on the Sea Floor," April, 1966, and "At Home in the Sea," April, 1964, both by Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau; and "Out post Under the Ocean," April, 1965, by Edwin A. Link.