The Worldwide Threat to Sharks
By Tony Wu
served a bowl of chicken broth with delicate Asian spices and vegetables
at a dinner party, I'd expect that most people would be very pleased.
If I added boiled hair and fingernails to the soup, the reaction of my
guests would most likely be different.
Yet everyday, people pay $100 or more per bowl of sharks fin soup. This prized
Asian delicacy is prepared by adding boiled sharks fin to chicken broth. Since
sharks fin is very similar to the tissue that comprises our hair and fingernails,
people who consume sharks fin soup are paying a lot of money for a bowl of chicken
soup with hair!
I generally don't take an interest in other people's culinary choices, but the
consumption of sharks fin soup genuinely saddens me. For those of you who have
had the good fortune to dive with sharks at some of the places on Carl's web site,
the contrast between the beauty of a living shark and the grotesque image of a
finned shark is apparent.
Sharks are caught (often at the best dive sites), their fins are sliced off, and
the still-living sharks are returned to the water to die, as these pictures of
affined Scalloped Hammerhead graphically illustrate. Without their fins, sharks
cannot swim, and they soon drown.
In addition to being a cruel practice, shark finning represents one of the most
wasteful of all fishing activities. Most of the shark is discarded, all for an
expensive delicacy which has no nutritional value and really doesn't taste very
So why do people consume sharks fin soup? In a word, status. Like buying a Gucci
bag or owning a luxury car, serving sharks fin soup at special functions like
wedding sand corporate dinners is a way of flaunting status.
I have nothing against successful people being proud of their achievements, but
the wasteful practice of killing sharks for their fins cannot continue indefinitely.The
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that between
fifty and two hundred million sharks are killed each year. Sharks reproduce slowly
and, as the top marine predator, their numbers are limited. Clearly such a high
annual take will diminish global shark populations. These magnificent predators
could fade completely from the diving experiences we all seek.
As a fellow concerned diver, please take time to educate people you know who maybe
unaware of the waste involved with shark finning and the damage this practice
is causing to the marine environment. People will listen.
For example, Singapore Airlines, a leading global airline, began serving sharks
fin soup last year. When the word got out, people from around the world began
emailing and writing to the company, asking it to reconsider this wasteful practice.
To Singapore Airlines‚ credit, within a couple of months, the company responded
and discontinued serving this dish.
A Captain and Divers spot the Sol y Mar, a Panamanian fishing vessel fishing for shark. They saw them bringing the shark to their vessel on a long line with baited hooks. After witnessing the fins being cut off while the shark was still alive, dropped back into the ocean, they dove and discovered the still-living shark with all the fins cut off and therefore totally immobilized. They took photos of the shark on the ocean floor.
They attached the yellow line to the shark to bring him to the swim step on their yacht for further inspection and additional photos.
Bait still in the sharks mouth, fin less, and left to die!
I'm not an activist, just a concerned diver who loves to get in the water and
see lots of sharks and other marine life. I am, however, making every effort
to stay informed about efforts worldwide to halt shark finning and doing my
best to help when I can. Please email me if you'd like to help control shark
SOL y MAR (Sun and Sea)
Shark Finning Boat of
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