Imagine being thrown into the ocean without any ability to defend yourself or receive oxygen, that is what sharks experience after finning. Shark finning is defined as the practice of removing the fins off of a shark and discarding the shark, typically by throwing the living shark back into the ocean. People do this to sharks in order to sell their fins, typically as food or trophies. Collectors typically pay $10,000-$20,000 per fin.
Well of course, shark finning isn’t that bad, right? Sharks are mean creatures who enjoy killing innocent humans only trying to enjoy a day at the beach! Well really, sharks aren’t that bad! The highest known record for worldwide shark attacks is ninety-eight, taking place in 2015. Worldwide, the average amount of shark related deaths is eight and in 2016, there were only four worldwide shark related deaths. Especially endangered by shark finning is the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini), and there is no document of a hammerhead ever killing a human.
The finned shark is typically thrown back into the ocean, leaving them completely defenseless. Once dumped in the ocean, the shark will most likely die of suffocation from their lack of ability to filter water through their gills. Or, another common possibility is being eaten by a predator who finds them defenseless. An estimated seventy three million sharks are finned each year and that number is possibly up to one hundred million. Sharks mature slower and breed later in life, around thirty years old, as well as breed less babies or ‘pups’ as baby sharks are called. This is called K-Selection and causes an inability in sharks to keep up with their mortality rate from shark finning. Over the last fifty years, some shark species have experienced drops in as much as eighty percent of their population.
This doesn’t only affects sharks either, overfishing of sharks negatively affects coral reefs too. Imagine a coral reef once healthy and full of coral, ending up overrun by algae. Coral reefs are kept clean by parrotfish and carnivorous fish feed on these parrotfish. Sharks, being apex predators on the top of the food chain, often eat these carnivorous fish. Without sharks these fish thrive and with a larger population of these fish, they eat more parrotfish. Coral reefs can fill up with algae due to the decreasing population of parrotfish.
So, shark finning is a problem, but how can we help?
Obviously, if you are participate in shark finning, you should stop continuing this practice. Otherwise, the best place to start is just with staying aware. Do not consume, purchase or sell shark fins and don’t support places or people who do. Additionally, consider signing petitions you find on shark finning, donating to campaigns to end shark finning, spreading the word about shark finning (especially online) and asking places which serve shark fins to stop.
Written with the hope of ending this practice, Daring Orca.
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A note from our co-founder, Dorky Shark:
Daring Orca is one of our new writers! I’m really looking forward to having her on long term. There’s a small behind-the-scenes figuring-out going on, and we’ll know for sure if she’s officially joining our team soon. It’s part of a larger figuring-out - you may have noticed we’re being kind of quiet right now, other than publishing a few articles. One thing that would really help cement Daring Orca’s status here is if you all followed a simple rule…if you like this post, like this post! There’s a like button down at the bottom. As usual, feel free to comment and share!