- Jaejeong & Jaeah Kim
Shark Finning: Sharks Turned Prey
(fisherman holding freshly cut dorsal fin from a scalloped hammerhead shark)
We recently uploaded a shark anatomy video (which you can check out here) where we explained the various organs of the shark along with some fun facts about these fascinating creatures. However, there’s one important information that we didn’t mention in the video– sharks are in grave danger.
If you are a human and you’re scared about being attacked by a shark, please don’t. Shark attacks killed 4 people in the world in 2019. Now, if you are a shark and you’re scared about being attacked by a human, please do. Humans killed approximately 100 million sharks globally in 2019. Wow.
The vast majority of sharks killed by humans are killed through a process called ‘shark finning.’ This is when humans capture a shark, remove all of its fins, and then discard it back into the ocean. Although the sharks are still alive when they are discarded, since sharks are unable to swim or breathe effectively without their fins, they die within a few hours either by being eaten or suffocation. Oh, and did I mention, sharks are capable of feeling pain as much as us mammals are.
The shark finning industry has been growing rapidly due to the increasing demand for shark fins (culinary or medicinal) particularly in China. Currently the global value of the shark fin trade is estimated to be $ 1.2 billion.
Now, other than the obvious harm in the fact that we are killing a 100 million sharks each year, the practice of shark finning has much deeper consequences. Shark finning has led to the ‘threatened’ status of 39 species of sharks on the IUCN red list, with 9 of these 39 species being marked as ‘threatened with extinction.’ If this wasn’t bad enough, sharks are an apex predator in the marine ecosystem, and thus the decreasing shark population has massive repercussions throughout other species as well.
Although there’s not really much you can do to help the sharks directly, hey we can always spread awareness and send letters to lawmakers. Remember, sharks are friend, not foe.
Photo credit: http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/sharks-rays/shark-finning-sharks-turned-prey