The Worldwide Threat to Sharks

By Tony Wu

If I 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.

Photos by

Robert Goodell

Fins removed and the shark can no loinger swim; Death!

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.Once fins are removed, shark cannot swim!

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 good.

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.

Venezuelian Finning Boat.

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.

Bring the de-finned shark up to look at further for photos to show the world.

Just trying to help to release this creature!

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 finning.

Venezuelian Finning Boat.

SOL y MAR (Sun and Sea)

Shark Finning Boat of

Panamanian Flag.


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