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Shark enthusiasts are rejoicing this week as Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” returns to the small screen. Personally, I started off watching the highly-anticipated predatory series Sunday evening with some fine (organic boxed) wine, delicious cheese and a good friend.
Although the media portrays sharks as a threat, there’s only an average of 5-10 human fatalities per year due to shark attacks… You’re more likely to be killed hornets, wasps, bees or dogs.
Yet an estimated 73 million sharks are killed yearly – from habitat loss, pollution, overfishing, and most of all, shark finning. This gross hunting encourages fishermen to hunt the sharks, cut off their fins, and toss them back into the ocean where they can no longer swim… leaving them to die on the ocean floor. Painfully and slowly. This billion dollar industry is disturbing - it would be pretty much be equivalent to if we were chopping off a deer’s 4 legs and leaving them in the woods.
Shark Fin Soup is a Chinese Delicacy – and with prices that average over $100, it’s a status symbol for weddings and business meetings. Yet the shark fins have no nutritional or medicinal value. Ironically, the shark fins don’t even have flavor and are purely in there for the… status.
Because of shark’s slow reproductive process, we could wipe out the populations in 10-20 years if shark finning continues at the current rate! What would happen if sharks die? As top of the food chains/apex predators, sharks keep every other species in the food chain in balance, weeding out the sick, injured and dying so that populations of fish stay strong and healthy. Otherwise, the entire balance of the ocean’s food chain is in danger.
For example, Shark Savers previewed this during a scientific study in the mid-Atlantic US when 11 species of sharks were nearly eliminated. 12 of the 14 species those sharks once fed on became so plentiful that they damaged the ecosystem, including wiping out the species farther down the food chain on which they preyed. The negative effects trickle down.
Luckily legislation and bans are increasing – there’s a bill in California to ban the sale and possession of shark fins. Celebs including Leonardo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson, basketball player Yao Ming & pop star Ke$ha are all supporting the CA law. Hawaii has already passed the ban with fines up to $50,000 + a year in prison to offenders. Outside the US, Chile and other countries have started passing Shark Finning bans.
- If you do eat seafood, go sustainable. The Monterey Seafood Watch/Guide (they even have smartphone apps!) recommends sustainable choices.
- Don’t eat sharks or shark fin soup, including restaurants that serve it.
- Support shark tourism: Dive & snorkel with sharks – so sharks become worth more alive than dead
- Sign online petitions to stop shark finning
- Email restaurant owners, China embassies & and YOUR local government officials to stop shark finning.
- Donate to Shark Conservation groups – pick one that you like!
- Watch Shark Week. Awareness helps understand these creatures. Plus, the more you know, the more myths are dispelled & more people will campaign for these awesome creatures. (PS - Anyone notice all these shark attack victims that then campaign for their survival from last night’s Summer of the Shark?!)
Happy Shark Week!
Posted by Julie
Green Philly Blog