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environmental issues When someone says the words SHARK your mind immediately starts to conjure up the worst possible scenario. When in fact sharks have a great deal to fear from humans. Over 100 million sharks perish annually at the hands of humans, and believe it or not many populations are faced with extinction.

One of the more grotesque practices performed by humans today is called "Shark Finning". Simply put its when the fins of a shark are cut off with a knife. You ask why would some one do this to a living animal. The answer, good old 'greed'. Shark products have a commercial value, teeth and jaws for ornaments, liver oil for cosmetics, medicines, vitamin A, and cartlilage for false cancer cures.

However the process that drives the market are the fins. They are dryed, cleaned and processed for 'shark fin soup'. The shark fin has little flavor and literally no nutritional value but the soup is considered a delicacy and will sell for about $100 a bowl in the Orient.

environmental issues How does shark finning work: here's what happens ...Sharks are caught and their fins cut off. The shark is not always dead when it discarded back into the sea. Without its fins the shark simply sinks to the bottom where it dies. What an ending for one of natures most magnificent creatures. Think of how the animal feels ...its put back into the sea which it considers its safe haven only to find out it can no longer swim and subsequently sinks to the bottom and dies. Wow, what a way to go.

The fact is is that the fins of the shark are more valuable then the shark itself so as a result the carcass is thrown back into the ocean to save space on the boat.

So the question is: Why should we care about this. Wouldn't the oceans of the world be better off without sharks. The answer of course is no! Looking at it from strictly a selfish point of view we would lose the opportunity to see this magnificent animal in the matural ocean wilderness. It would be like Africa without lions and elephants.

environmental issues Aside from that the entire ocean ecology would change. Its interesting to see what would happen. The shark disappears. The number one predator in the oceans eco system. The fishes and animals that used to be prey to the shark produce at an alarming rate thus upsetting the entire balance.

One of the reasons why the shark population is so delicate is that their reproductive cycle is very slow. Some specie of sharks do not reproduce until they are about 15 years old. And some only have as few as two pups bi-annually, so when sharks are killed or over fished it may take many years to recover.

Sharks also get a bad rap from the public. Most of the time when you see a picture of a shark it is shown with its mouth partially open, displaying its 'pearly whites' and looking very ominous. Its mouth needs to be open in order for it to pass water over its gills. Something you probably did not know that in some countries Dolphins are cut up and used for bait to attrack the shark so it can be killed and used for a bowl of soup.

environmental issues To sum all this up, shark finning is obviously a backwards practice, its a travesty of nature. We need it to stop before natures equalizer is lost forever. Remember if the shark disappears the oceans will team with fish that live off the plant life in the sea. When the plant life is gone so is the oxygen that the ocean produces. Not a very happy thought.

I was recently diving off a remote island 300 miles from the Costa Rican coast and saw on occasion two silvertip sharks with long lines streaming from their mouths. It would be a sad day when the only sharks we could see would be in books.

All this for a bowl of soup!

Excerpts from:
Sharks are friends