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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
 
To the ancient Polynesians, sharks were gods or swift chariots used by sorcerers to rove the seas, bringing death or ill fortune to their enemies. Today, some 35 years after Steven Spielberg's movie 'Jaws' first terrified cinema audiences, we see sharks as a metaphor for evil -- killers without conscience. It hardly matters that only a handful of the world's 450 species are considered potentially dangerous to humans. Just the word 'shark' is enough to grip the collective imagination and these 'monsters' hardly excite public sympathy. But, their numbers are dwindling at such an alarming rate that the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has a Shark Specialist Group to study the problem.

Unlike most fishes which spawn thousands of eggs at one time, sharks -- most of which breed like mammals -- turn out only a few dozen or less a year. Even one of the most prolific breeders, the blue shark, generates only about 40 young a year. Sharks generally grow slowly and mature late, and very few get the opportunity to live long, especially with the ever-increasing demand for shark products: livers refined into smooth translucent oil for cosmetics; dried cartilage used in cancer treatment and to make artificial skin for burn victims; gall bladder extracts showing promise in acne treatment; and teeth, marketed as popular jewellery items. Reports indicate that up to 73 million sharks are killed each year solely for these purposes.

Then there is humanity's feeding frenzy, especially shark-fin soup. Finning is perhaps the most disturbing concern for conservationists. It is a simple but brutal process whereby shark is caught, its fin sliced off, then dumped, often still alive, back into the sea ! Bans on shark finning have been adopted for most international  waters but lenient standards and lack of enforcement hamper their effectiveness. The hammerhead is amongst the most endangered species from shark finning -- its meat, very low in value but its fins, highly prized !

While some shark species have experienced an overall decline, some others have been subjected to a total decline in a particular region. For instance, scientists note a 50-70 per cent drop in the blue shark population in the North Atlantic.

What effect does this have on the ocean ecosystem ? A clue is evident from a study in which wolves and mountain lions, the apex predators, were removed from a region of Colorado: the deer population boomed, exhausted its food supply and eventually died of starvation. A similar fate could befall fish stocks and sea lions if sharks continue to be eradicated.

With the inclusion of more and more names to the list of endangered sharks, man's greed for short-term economic gains has apparently far exceeded the vision required to maintain a proper balance in the biodiversity of our planet.

     
  1. Steven Spielberg's movie has ______.
       
    (A) alarmed the IUCN
    (B) painted sharks in a negative light
    (C) caused the number of sharks to fall
    (D) generated much public sympathy for sharks
       
  2. 'Prolific' in paragraph 2 means that the blue sharks ______.
       
    (A) reproduce carefully
    (B) reproduce by the dozens
    (C) reproduce in great numbers
    (D) reproduce at a very great speed
       
  3. Sharks are hunted for ______.
       
    (A) their meat
    (B) breeding purposes
    (C) display at aquariums
    (D) food, health and cosmetic purposes
       
  4. A 'total decline' (paragraph 4) refers to ______.
       
    (A) an uphill climb all the way
    (B) a downhill drop all the way
    (C) a pattern of increase and decrease
    (D) a decrease most of the time with occasional peaks
       
  5. Which of the following statements is true ?
       
    (A) The hammerhead is the least valued for its fins.
    (B) The Shark Specialist Group is only concerned with how sharks breed.
    (C) The overhunting of sharks could eventually lead to the deaths of their prey.
    (D) The ocean ecosystem is affected by the deaths of wolves and mountain lions.
       
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  Answers : 1B   2C   3D   4B   5C
 
 
 
 

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