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A black-tip shark near Durban, South Africa, on Dec. 10. Photo: Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images

The number of oceanic sharks and rays has declined 71% globally over the last 50 years, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The study finds that fishing prohibitions and catch limits "are urgently needed to avert population collapse" and avoid ecological disruption.

What they found: 24 of the 31 total species of sharks and rays are currently at risk of extinction, AP reports, while scalloped hammerhead sharks, great hammerheads and oceanic whitetip sharks are critically endangered.

What they're saying: “You drop a fishing line in the open ocean, and often it’s sharks that are there first — whether or not they’re the primary target,” marine biologist Stuart Sandin told the AP, in reference to the study.

  • “When you remove top predators of the ocean, it impacts every part of the marine food web,” Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University who was not involved in the Nature study, told AP.
  • “Sharks are like the lions, tigers and bears of the ocean world, and they help keep the rest of the ecosystem in balance.”

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.