As an animal hospital, we value the lives and safety of all living creatures including those in the wild. Although humans view them as cold blooded killers, these “sea dogs” are animals too.
Sharks are the ultimate predator in the ocean and the apex of the food chain. They play a vital role in keeping a healthy functioning ecosystem. Scientists even measure shark population as an accurate way of evaluating the health of parts of the ocean. They have the ability to keep the oceanic population steady by regulating the behaviour of other prey species, preventing “over-grazing.”
See… these animals are not as scary as you thought they were. I mean come on, they can be kind of cute too.
Here’s the thing, these innocent beings are dying by the millions… 100 million annually at that. Why? Because of humans. For what? Their fins.
In Asia, shark fins are used in food, primarily shark fin soup, a luxury delicacy. Sharks are being fished, de-finned, and then thrown back into the ocean. Some sharks starve to death, others slowly get eaten by other fish, and some drown since sharks need to keep moving to force water through their gills for oxygen.
There is such a high demand for shark fins because traders are able to make decent money off of them. These traders are solely interested in the fin as the shark meat is not high in economical value and takes too much space in holding. The body meat contains urea, which is a precursor to ammonia and is also high in mercury. These properties are both very toxic to the human body making the shark meat worthless. Shark fin itself is tasteless, but provides a gelatinous bulk for the soup which is flavoured with chicken or other stock.
Heres the funny thing… It’s not even worth it. A study has found that sharks are actually worth more alive, than dead. In Palau, more than half of visiting tourists are drawn by diving excursions. In these excursions, each reef shark brings in about $179,000 in tourism revenue annually, or about $1.9 million during its lifetime. A single shark’s fin, in shark fin soup, brings in only about $108. Let’s also put somethings into perspective. Did you know that each year 6 humans are killed by sharks versus 73 MILLION sharks being killed for their fins?
In Asia, another beautiful underwater creature has been put in danger as well, the manta ray. Similar to the shark finning, these manta rays are being hunted, but for their gill rakers. The gill rakers of a manta ray are made of thin filaments that they use to filter food from the water. The global manta ray population has already declined by about one-third in recent years and their slow reproductive rate worsens these threats.
What do they use their gill rakers for? Soup? No, gill rakers (known as “Peng Yu Sai” in China) are believed to contain a property that can treat health issues ranging from chicken pox to cancer. They are thought to boost the immune system and help purify the body by reducing toxins and enhancing blood circulation. Others believe that they can also help cure throat and skin ailments, male kidney issues, and even fertility problems. There is NO scientific research that proves that any of these purposes are valid.
Similar to the way sharks are treated, fisherman pull the mantas out of the water, take out their rakers and either throw them back in or grind up the remains for fish meal. This is done in the least humane way leaving these poor creatures to suffer or die. A trade in their gills is roughly worth just $5-10m a year and supports a tourist trade worth well over $100m a year.
If you too are against shark finning and this killing of manta rays, join support: