As many of you are aware, sharks are the apex predators of the ocean and ensure the diversity of numerous other species. When there is an increase in sharks, the species present in that ecosystem are better controlled. Do you know what largely affects the populations of sharks on a global scale? Shark Finning! This is the removal of the fins from the sharks and then discarding the rest of the carcass back into the sea. The shark is most often returned back alive, but since it is unable to swim, it drowns. Poachers do not care about the size or species, only the fins. One pound of dried fins can sell for more than three hundred dollars!
What is even more astronomical is that it is estimated that one hundred million sharks are finned annually! It’s crazy to see that we still have sharks in our oceans! The trade for shark fins is correlated to the creation of Shark Fin Soup. It is a soup originating from Chinese cuisine that is eaten at weddings, special occasions, and as a luxury. The price of such a “delicacy” peaks around two hundred dollars. The fins are utilized in other natural remedies provide copious health benefits, though none are backed by scientific evidence.
So what happens when the sharks are all gone? The sublevels of the foodchains take over the spot that sharks held, this leads to over-predation of the lower species and increased growth of vegetation. The entire ecosystem is affected by just a single organism being eliminated. Marine environments globally will collapse and not be able to sustain themselves. We need sharks as much as they need us right now, but how are we gonna help them? People need to be educated on how crucial sharks are for the balance of ecosystems. It is also important that consumers of shark fin soup use an imitation shark ingredient, such as konjac gel. We need to advocate the necessity of sharks and save the ones that are left before time runs out.
Written by Kayla O'Donnell