What comes to mind when you hear the word shark? Most of us immediately think of the iconic image of Jaws, who evoked the fear of being hunted whenever we stepped into the water.
What was once known as a great hunter whose species has survived for millions of years is now being the hunted and for all things their fins.
Recently, the California-based Aquarium of the Bay collected and sent more than 3,600 individualized letters—2,676 came from visitors across the United States and 929 from international guests hailing from Canada, England and France. The letters which will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service urge an international ban on shark finning.
The Aquarium also teamed up with shark conservationist Jim Toomey to develop an exhibit which ran this summer. Toomey used his nationally syndicated Sherman's Lagoon comic strip to entertain and educate by addressing issues that included shark finning.
"We're pleased that so many guests were affected by our exhibit, and felt strongly enough about shark finning to sign an individual letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service," says Christina Slager, director of husbandry for Aquarium of the Bay. "We appreciate Jim Toomey's generous contribution to the Aquarium's efforts to educate the public about the brutality of shark finning."
The practice of 'shark finning' involves the removal of shark fins while the shark is still alive. After the process is complete the animal's carcass is discarded at sea. According to Oceana, 73 million sharks are killed each year, primarily for their fins.
For centuries the Chinese believed that the shark fins could heal or prevent a variety of ailments, but there is no proof to back up the claims that shark fins have any kind of healing property. Yet people still flock to buy the delicacy paying, according to Oceana, between $15 to $100 for the soup and about $1,300 for the fin itself.
For more information regarding the Aquarium of the Bay’s conservation efforts visit aquariumofthebay.org.
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/rling