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Sharks Have Feelings Too

By Melissa Gutierrez
Posted On Jun 24, 2016
Sharks Have Feelings Too

Let the frenzy begin! Shark Week is once again thrashing its way into our living rooms.

Feared by most, loved by some, and hunted by many, sharks are the protagonists of our television screens for an entire week!

Shark Week celebrates the ocean’s top predator- equipped with razor sharp teeth, a keen sense of smell, predatory agility, and millions of years of survival instincts, making the shark one of the most enduring species of all time.

Despite our haunting images of Jaws, which may have scared a generation of cinemagoers out of the water in its prime, sharks are not indestructible creatures looking to bite us in half.

In fact, as a whole, humanity poses a bigger threat to the survival of this legendary species. The shark population is gravely diminishing due to an inhumane act known as shark finning.

Shark finning is a process of cutting of a shark’s fin and discarding the rest of the still-living body, often by dumping the wounded shark back into the ocean. Shark fins are tempting targets for fishermen because of their high monetary and cultural value.

Shark fin soup is a traditional soup in Chinese cuisine as well as a symbol of status. In the past, emperors served shark fin soup to honor guests because thought to have medicinal benefits and was symbolic of victory against powerful adversaries. Cultural fondness of shark fins has not faded over time or with China’s growing population.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Thus, fishermen are greatly incentivized to hunt sharks as they can earn $500 per pound! The rest of the shark is less valuable so they are dumped back into the ocean injured and profusely bleeding. Unable to swim properly without their fins, they suffocate or die of blood loss.

According to the International Union of Conservation of Nature, between 1.3-2.7 million sharks are killed globally in the shark fin trade. With their slow growth, low reproduction rates, and diminishing numbers, sharks are highly susceptible to extinction.

bawabali.com
bawabali.com

Fortunately, social awareness has been spreading and people are realizing how vital this species is to our ecosystems prompting officials to enact laws to protect sharks on a variety of scales.

Indeed, since 1994, 22 countries have placed domestic regulations on shark finning. In the United States, the 2010 Shark Conservation Act dictates that all sharks caught in U.S. waters and brought back to shore must have fins still attached.

China is also making strides. In 2012 the Chinese government prohibited the serving of shark fin soup at official banquets.

Friends, let’s rally together and protect the lives of these widely misunderstood and nimble creatures because… sharks have feelings too.