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Stop Shark Finning

If today is Wednesday, then over 548,016 sharks have had their fins illegally cut off for soup since Monday. This articles purpose is to inform you about the mass slaughter of these creatures, but more importantly influence as many people possible to help protect these animals that cannot protect themselves. Let cut to the chase, why should we care? These fish are crucial to our oceans ecosystem which in turn controls our land ecosystem, the mass depletion of sharks has already created a vicious domino effect, however it can be stopped. These beautiful beasts are scary because of a few reasons that we will discuss soon. However It’s a very common disbelief that sharks are flesh-eating killers, a myth birthed by hollywood.  Before anything lets begin by debunking some of the myths associated with sharks.There is something universally creepy about the unknown and the fact oceangoers can’t see beneath them is a common cause for concern. Local Santa Cruz Surfer Ryan Chang comments on his instagram “ The scariest thing in the water can be as harmless as sea weed because it just wraps around you and you think you’re gonna die next”. This paranoia is said to be influenced by sharks misportrayal from the media in movies such as jaws,sharknado, or the shallows where a great white literally terrorizes a girl on a rock for three days. If you can mentally transition them from malicious man eaters to creatures crucial to our very existence we can begin to appreciate the true beauty behind these beasts. Appreciation begins with respect, so naturally we have to respect them for what they are. One doesn’t go into the jungle and try to run with the Lions but people test sharks everyday by swimming amongst their waters. This isn’t to say that we shouldnt go to the ocean rather we should respect this area as theirs and remember the Lion metaphor because it is parallel to this situation. Next, yes as Ryan said what we can’t see is unsettling, but the fact of the matter is that a 6-12ft fish can do whatever it wishes with us and there is little to nothing we humans can do, but they don’t. Sharks simply don’t like the way we taste, this is why they kill on average one person every two years in the United States. To put that statistic into perspective: champagne corks kill 24 each year, illicit drugs kill 22,000, 6,000 people die from tripping and finally ants kill up to 50 people per year…ants kills more people each year than sharks. So, now that we have addressed common myths surrounding sharks lets transition into why they are being killed at such an alarming rate. Within the Chinese culture the shark is regarded as a delicacy to some, and is consumed at special events like weddings or other celebrations. The belief is that sharks don’t get sick like other animals that they don’t get diseases like cancer or if you eat it that power can transfer to you. This has been proven to be more cultural than spiritual for there is no scientific back ground that proves shark fins can cure cancer or give you special powers. Despite this factual absence a pound of fin sells for more than 200 dollars (90 dollars a bowl) in the black market. The incentive is like most things, monetary, the shark industry is a billion dollar juggernaut, effectively making any thug with a boat(among other tools) a potential kingpin. The inflation rate is absurd as well, the price goes from 8 cents to 200 dollars through the middle men process and some large fins go for as much as 10,000 dollars. Such greed has taken it’s toll on shark populations. Over one hundred million sharks are killed each year by a process called long lining. Long lining is a fishing technique in which there is a line for a hundred miles with hooks that catches and drags sharks and other animals for miles before killing them. On top of dragging them for miles the fisherman cut off the fins and throw the sharks back into the water, leaving them alive to sink to the sea floor and get eaten alive or die slowly. Another issue is their reproduction rate.  It takes sharks up to 20 years to reach sexual maturity and with such as mass decline juvenile species are getting wiped out effectively depleting reproduction rates. There is a common misconception among some Chinese chefs  that sharks will continue to live despite the fact that they are consuming without giving anything in return. This attitude is completely erroneous for obvious reasons. If we viewed land creatures with that mindset it would be stopped immediately. Imagine bears, dogs or deers killings being justified by “they’ll be okay because they keep having kids” it’s simply unsavory. The bottom line is that nobody is looking after the sharks because of the irrational fears associated with them. Conservationists preach that it is our duty as humans to do what we can to help those who can’t fight for themselves and this belief is keeping the fight against shark finning alive. Sharks are some of the oldest living creatures on earth. 

imgres-5.jpgThey have been here before our continents took their form, before Spain or the US were even a thought, before organisms were even alive on land.They have remained the same/unchanged animal and survived for 400 million years, some 150 million years before the dinosaurs and miraculously survived 5 major extinctions. We are  more of a threat to them, then they are to us and we need these animals to survive here on land. Fishing and cutting away the food chain is causing problems within the ocean which is essentially the life support system of our world. This means that when our oceans change life on earth changes. Sharks presence is said to provide a framework for the populations beneath them. For example, carbon dioxide eating phyto plankton provides 70% of the air we breathe on land, and the phyto plankton rely on sharks for nutrients. Scientists say once we realize that the ocean is imperative to the health of our eco system is when real progress will be made. The recurring theme among the research is that through the preservation of these creatures we are preserving our life here on earth for future generations. Sharks are an apex predator, king of the seas but somewhere along the way we portrayed them as savage creatures and turned them into a soup, but as you have read today we need them as much as they need us.  Our “world shark population is estimated to have declined by 90%”  The reality that they are almost gone is absurd,  us humans kill carnivores at nine times the rate that carnivores kill each other. The sad fact that we decide what lives and dies has caused irreversible damage on our planet not just in the oceans. Sites such as sharksaver.org encourage everyone to help because we  humans are the only ones with the power to protect these fish. Shark finning hunters “ Every social justice we have fought for has been started by single individuals. If you want to take part in such preservation efforts you can do so by visiting sharksavers.org where you can sign petitions regarding shark conservation efforts. Something as simple as talking about this with your friends has the power to save a couple of sharks. Thank You. 

Here is an interview with a shark conservationist and marine enthusiast as well as short video.

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