Shark… Finning?

Ever since the discovery of the vast ocean, sharks have been the major predators of the sea. Much like the humans of our time, most actions are not recognized unless it is something the world thinks to be heinous. For this reason, sharks have got a bad wrap.

We, humans, are not natural prey to a shark. Most shark attacks happen not because a shark is hungry for human blood, but simply because they are curious creatures. Ever since I could remember, this Ohio girl has had a certain infatuation with sharks. They have always been something so foreign and intriguing to me. I look forward to shark week annually, and continuously try to find ways to advocate for their habitat.

Though not really anywhere near my hometown, the ocean has always peaked my interest. I believe that sharks have done the same because they are seemingly some of Earth’s most “misunderstood” creatures.

The purpose of this post is to share with you all what I discovered a few mere years ago. Had I not been forced to find an article to write about for a class in college, I would have remained blind to the fact that this practice was a very real thing.

Shark finning.

For those of you that do not know what this practice is, I highly recommend some further research on it. Basically, large amounts of sharks are being caught, their fins are being severed from their bodies, and they are being thrown back in to the ocean.

Unfortunately, when a shark’s fin is harvested, they can no longer survive. In order to keep water, and, thus, oxygen, moving through a shark’s gills, they must keep swimming. In other words, they never stop moving. Without enough fins to swim, finned sharks are tossed back in to the ocean to slowly suffocate.

This has always been a practice that has baffled me. I am no stranger to hunting. In fact, I have gone hunting myself. I believe that legal, regulated hunting practices play a big role in regulating populations of allowable species. However, I was taught from a young age not to take a life if you did not intend to make the best of your action.

Shark finning is just that, there is no “making the best” of this senseless killing. To put it simply, a life is being wasted here. It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed each year globally, a major reason being shark finning.

This practice has put certain species in jeopardy of becoming endangered, and for what? Not only would you think that this is morally wrong, but it is further destroying an already damaged ecosystem. Without the balance that sharks provide the ocean ecosystem, the oceanic ecosystem will continue to crumble. This happens in any ecosystem that loses some of its main predators , prey, or anything of the like.

Picture an ecosystem as a bicycle. In order to run, a bicycle must have a chain. Let us assume that the bicycle chain represents sharks in this scenario. You are going for a bike ride, when all of a sudden the chain on your bike is shortened by a few links. These links can represent the different species that are in jeopardy of becoming endangered and/or extinct. Without these, seemingly unimportant before, links, your bicycle can go no further. You try, and try, and try, but you just cannot get the chain to work without the missing links.

An ecosystem is no different. Without the “links” the ecosystem has grown to function on, it will slowly start to crumble. The only difference between these two things is that you cannot simply “buy a new” ocean. Overpopulation of one species may result, or the extinction of another that is the natural prey of the overpopulated species. We would not want gravity’s balance to suddenly change, so why are we allowing the same to happen in our oceans?

Luckily, though never too soon, the legal field has attempted to step in. About 20 countries have placed regulations on shark finning. Likewise, all sharks caught in U.S. waters must be returned to shore with their fins on. More advances are necessary to stop this practice, in more fields than one.

Most of our ignorance as a society is not that we cannot understand, it is that we do not know enough to attempt to understand. I believe that we all turn a blind eye to things that do not directly have an influence on us. However, everything comes full circle.

As others may not know, farming has been something of a chore this year. Our region, one of the top grain producers in the country, had been plagued by rain, making it impossible for farmers to yield what they usually do. Though this may seem trivial to most, it will come full circle. Fuel prices will rise, food prices will rise, meat prices will rise, and animal feed prices will rise. Everything finds a way to come full circle. This is no different.

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