islamabad          -     Though many people find them intimidating, menacing or just plain scary, sharks are vital to the health of the world’s oceans.

These often misunderstood creatures are found in just about every ocean habitat around the globe, but their populations are plummeting. Indeed, the true extent of their decline is not fully known.

To better understand the level of shark disappearance across tropical, coastal reefs, an international team of scientists, including researchers from UC Santa Barbara, conducted a landmark study under the Global FinPrint organization.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature, reveal that sharks are virtually absent from many of the world’s coral reefs. The results indicate that sharks are too rare to fulfill their normal role in these ecosystems — otherwise referred to as “functionally extinct”.