At Riled Up, we’ve spoken about the situation of sharks before.
Shark fins are used as an ingredient in a soup served in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and elsewhere in Asia. The fins contribute no nutrition or flavor to the expensive porridge. This demand has led to a massive reduction in shark populations but until now the extent of the decline was not well known.
Scientific American has just released a report on shark declines. Their status appears more like an apocalypse as the new research suggests a 90% reduction worldwide. According to the report, we are on the way to “shark-free” oceans with untold negative consequences. Like wolves in mountains and forests, sharks are the top predators of many marine environments keeping other species under control and maintaining ecosystem stability.
An early study by Ben Horton, the first-ever National Geographic recipient of a Young Explorers award, exposed the issue of shark poaching in Costa Rica. He used his outdoor training skills to capture with new media and video, stories about the situation of sharks near Cocos Island off the Costa Rican mainland.
Shark Poaching in Costa Rica (credit: National Geographic Society)
There have been some positive developments with the banning of shark fin sales in California, Oregon, and Washington as well as the banning of shark fishing by nations including Palau and Honduras. Enforcement of the bans could still be a challenge but the new Scientific American report indicates little time remains to maintain a marine creature that has existed since before the time of the dinosaurs.