Reading Practice: Save the Shark

In today’s lesson, we shall look at an article from New Scientist. This article is shorter than a typical IELTS essay, but thematically and linguistically it is the same. This falls under the IELTS topic of environment. I have put together some questions to help you with your IELTS reading skills, and the answers are located further down the page. The questions are not all exactly IELTS reading question types but they are related and designed to help you find information in a passage quickly and effectively.

On a serious note, sharks are a true passion of mine. I love these animals and admire them for their beauty and elegance. They have existed in our world since the time of the dinosaurs, and yet we humans have killed them in staggering numbers. I hope this lesson not only helps you with your IELTS skills but also makes you think a little about how we can save these important animals.

Sharks now protected no matter whose waters they swim in

By Andy Coghlan


It’s been a good week for beleaguered sharks. A cross-border conservation pact signed by 126 countries this week promises for the first time to extend extra protection to sharks and several other migratory species, whichever countries they stray into.

Among the biggest winners at the global Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals(CMS) were whale sharks: the world’s largest fish. They are a vulnerable species and their population has been falling. Governments added whale sharks to appendix I of the convention, promising to protect them domestically from killing or capture, and to safeguard their habitats.

Conservationists welcomed the move because it means whale sharks will finally be protected at offshore “hotspots” to which they migrate, including Madagascar, Mozambique, Peru and Tanzania.

Several other sharks made it on to appendix II, which obliges countries within a species’ migratory range to collaborate on measures to protect them, for example by regulating fishing or banning finning.

International cooperation

Conservationists particularly welcomed the new status for blue sharks. “They’re the most highly fished sharks in the world, with 20 million caught around the world each year, but they’re also the most migratory, so they’re vulnerable to fisheries everywhere,” says Matt Collis of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “This puts pressure on countries to commit to international protection.”

Other sharks sharing in the same new protections included dusky sharks, angelsharks, white-spotted wedgefish and the bizarrely named common guitarfish.

As an additional bonus, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Benin and Brazil joined the shark memorandum of understanding, an ad hoc agreement already signed by 41 countries to coordinate protection for sharks. Collis says the addition of Brazil is particularly significant, as it has a large part to play in protection of many species of shark.

On land, lions and leopards were placed on appendix II, again entitling them to coordinated protection across borders. Collis says that lack of cooperation has been a weakness of previous arrangements, allowing lion numbers in Africa to dwindle by 40 per cent over the past two decades to just 20,000 today.


Match the words on the left to a similar meaning in the right-hand column.

1.       beleaguered a. legally required to do something
2.       pact b. an agreement
3.       obliges c. get smaller and smaller
       4.    migratory d. facing many difficulties
       5.    dwindle e. in the habit of moving to many places

Identifying Relevant Information

  1. Circle the 6 different species of shark mentioned in the article.
  2. Underline the 8 countries named.
  3. Highlight the 2 non-shark animals included.

True, False, or Not Given

  1. Whale sharks will receive extra protection in future. ___
  2. Conservationists are unhappy about these developments. ___
  3. More blue sharks are caught than any other species. ___
  4. The Great White Shark is the most endangered species. ___
  5. Countries communicating poorly has caused problems in the past. ___

Short Answers

  1. What is the biggest fish in the world?
  2. Under appendix II, what must countries do to protect sharks?
  3. How many blue sharks are caught each year?
  4. Which kind of shark has an unusual name?
  5. How many countries signed the ad hoc agreement?

Summary Completion

A new agreement has been reached between 126 promising to increase ___1___ for various kinds of migratory animals. Governments have agreed to ___2___ the living environments of some species, including the critically endangered whale shark. These animals ___3___ to certain places around the world that scientists call “hotspots”. This measure has been praised by ___4___.  The blue shark is another species which is extremely ___5___ due to fishing. In addition to the main agreement, 41 countries have come together to ___6___ their efforts to save sharks. On land, efforts are underway to stop the stop various species reaching extinction by improving ___7___ between nations.


Sharks are a critically important part of our global ecosystem. How can we help to save them from extinction?




Identifying Relevant Information


  1. Whale shark
  2. Blue shark
  3. dusky sharks
  4. angelsharks
  5. white-spotted wedgefish
  6. bizarrely named common guitarfish


  1. Madagascar
  2. Mozambique
  3. Peru
  4. Tanzania
  5. Sri Lanka
  6. Ecuador
  7. Benin
  8. Brazil

Non-shark animals

  1. Lions
  2. Leopards


  1. D
  2. B
  3. A
  4. E
  5. C


  1. T
  2. F – they welcome it, meaning they are happy
  3. T
  4. NG
  5. T

Short answers

  1. Whale sharks
  2. Regulate fishing/ban finning
  3. 20 million
  4. Guitarfish
  5. 41

Summary Completion

  1. Protection
  2. Safeguard
  3. Migrate
  4. Conservationists
  5. Vulnerable
  6. Coordinate
  7. Communication

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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  1. Respected sir/madam,

    Thank you so much for this. I know its too much to ask but is there any way to get the answer for the writing section.

    Thank you!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Karthik,

      The question is not actually a proper IELTS question, so I didn’t put a sample answer. It was just to encourage students to practice on an IELTS-related topic. Perhaps you could write your own answer here, and I will give you some corrections.

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks David for the response. Here is my reply to the writing section. This is my first baby step for the preparation of IELTS 🙂
        I totally agree that sharks are critically important part of our global ecosystem. It is important to have a proper conservation pact among different countries where migration of these sharks is more. These sharks considered as a apex predator which are crucial in maintaining the ecosystem. The main cause for sharks extinction is by human activities such as Shark finning. People, for their own benefit and in search for pleasure of taste lead them to do finning. Government should make strict laws to stop such activities and people should realize that there are different ways to earn money and move towards cruel free food.

        Post a Reply
        • That’s really good. I’ve made some changes below:

          I totally agree that sharks are critically important part of our global ecosystem. It is important to have a proper conservation pact among different countries where migration of these sharks occurs. These sharks are considered apex predators, which are crucial in maintaining the ecosystem. The main cause for sharks’ extinction is by human activities such as shark finning. People do this for their own benefit because they utilize the shark fins for soup. Governments should make strict laws to stop such activities and people should realize that there are different ways to earn money and move towards cruelty-free food.

          Post a Reply

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