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I admit it, I have not necessarily always been a big shark fan. That had largely been a result of lack of information and awareness. My personal experiences with sharks are mostly limited to things like seeing a basking shark on a whale watch some years ago, and the new touch tank at the New England Aquarium (they feel like very very fine and slightly slimy sand paper). Turns out, sharks are pretty awesome. They are the apex predators of our oceans, keeping ecosystems in check. Yeah, they scare people (thanks, Jaws!) but toasters kill more people than sharks. That’s right – toasters.
And sharks are facing incredible peril in the oceans right now. The link above talks about how a handful of people are killed by sharks in an average year. Conversely, humans and human activity take the lives of over 70 MILLION sharks each year.
The primary cause is the deplorable act of shark finning, where live sharks are pulled aboard a boat, their fins are cut off, and their still living bodies are dumped back in the ocean where they are sentenced to die either by predators or drowning. Without their fins they cannot swim, and because they cannot swim, their gills are unable to extract oxygen from the water. This is about as undignified a death as any animal could suffer. And for what are their fins used? Soup. Time Magazine had an article called Extinction in a Bowl of Shark Fin Soup which talks about the high price to the consumer (at least $100 per bowl) and ultimately to all of us as sharks are killed and ocean ecosystems worldwide are critically altered as a result. Continue Reading »