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December 10th, 2008
10:00 PM ET

The world needed to see what I was witnessing

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.

Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

___________________________________________________

Shawn Heinrichs

Founder & Executive Producer, Blue Sphere Media

I broke the surface having just completed the last day of diving on some of the most incredible reefs I had ever seen. Floating in the deep blue waters, I looked around and surveyed the dozens of forest covered limestone islands that surrounded me.

This was truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was filming the reefs in Raja Ampat off the western tip of Papua in Indonesia, one of the most remote and biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.

Cruising back to our camp, we noticed a small fishing boat anchored in a shallow lagoon within the protected area. Curious, we decided to investigate. As we drew near, we made a grizzly discovery. On the blood soaked deck, covered with buzzing flies, were dozens and dozens of shark fins that had recently been sliced off of small reef sharks.

Looking into the water, an odd shape at the bottom caught our attention. Immediately we identified it as the body of a shark. It took all my willpower to control my feelings of anger and frustration. And then I recalled, where sharks should have been abundant on every protected reef, we had not seen sharks the entire week. Now it was clear why. It was also immediately clear what I had to do.

The world needed to see what I was witnessing.

Flipping my video camera on, I documented the gruesome reality of what lay strewn before me: the fins, the blood, the flies, grisly contradictions to these magnificent surroundings.

Loading my camera into my underwater housing, I threw on my snorkel gear and slipped into the water. Below me strewn across coral reef were a dozen, dead juvenile reef sharks rolling gently with the current. Descending down, my stomach turned as I saw the blood seeping from wounds where their fins had been. These beautiful sharks had been ruthlessly sliced and thrown overboard to drown, killed just for their fins.

After filming all I could stomach, I returned to the boat. Enraged, I wanted to do something. Certainly this reckless harvesting must be illegal. Our guide Andy then informed me that the fisherman had presented a legal shark fishing permit which for $30 granted him the right to fin sharks for 30 days. Quick math revealed 10 sharks per day times 30 days, or 300 sharks for $30.

Ten cents a shark!

This was the price for the life of each of the juvenile reef sharks below me on the reef. But what was the cost on the marine ecosystem and the local community that depended on it?

Something changed in me that day, something that would grow inside and drive me to dedicate my life to ending the short-sighted destruction of marine environments and first and foremost, by halting the shark fin trade.

So much of what I have learned about the oceans, I have learned while diving and filming. Much of what we watch, read and hear about marine life is only a shadow of the reality. For many people, the closest they come to this world is a seafood restaurant or sushi bar.

Take sharks for instance, one of my favorite subjects. We are taught to believe sharks are mindless killers, that even a drop of blood will send them into a feeding frenzy and that most species of sharks are "man-eaters".

These myths couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have drifted with schools of over 500 hammerhead sharks and watched as 100 reef sharks formed hunting packs at night. I have knelt within touching distance while a dozen bull sharks, some more than 1000 pounds and 11-feet long, fed on fish. In all my dives with sharks, I never witnessed a deliberate attempt by a shark to injure or kill.

Sadly, however, I have also watched sharks disappear from the oceans. Sharks were once plentiful, but they have effectively vanished from all but a few remaining sanctuaries. And even within these "sanctuaries" they are being systematically targeted and killed for their fins. Fins!

Fins make up less than 3-5 percent of a sharks’ total mass, the other 95 percent is either thrown back in the ocean or used as a cheap by-product. Only small strands of cartilage from the fin are used, the rest discarded as trash. These cartilage strands are boiled and used as a flavorless thickener, like thin noodles, in a watery soup flavored by chicken stock. Shark Fin Soup.

Once popular on special occasions among the ultra-elite in Asia, the recent economic boom in China coupled with intense marketing by the shark fin trade, has fueled an explosion in demand for the soup.

More than 100 million sharks are killed every year primarily for their fins. In the past 20 years, many of the great shark species populations have been reduced by more than 90 percent. If nothing changes, sharks are heading on a one way road to extinction.

So what if we remove sharks? Slow to grow and slow to reproduce, sharks have perfectly evolved for 400 million years to keep our oceans in balance by removing the sick and managing populations. Remove the sharks and the populations of faster growing predatory fish they control explode and wipe out successive layers in the food chain.

The ecosystem has been in place for more than 400 million years, but man is wiping it out in less than 50 years. Close to 1 billion people depend upon the ocean for their livelihoods and survival. What will happen when these people lose their jobs or go hungry? That is why sharks matter.

In the developed world, our consumption behavior is disconnected from its impact on the environment. Most of us don't know where our fish comes from, how it is caught or raised, and what waste products it produces. The oceans are being effectively strip-mined, by some of the most destructive and wasteful fishing practices imaginable.

The result: sharks along with all other large species of fish have been largely fished out of most of the seas with hardly any notice or public outcry. And now, we are fishing our way down, removing successive layers in the food chain.

As part of my documentary I am filming on the global shark fin trade, I spent a week in Raja Ampat. This region was once one of the most ecologically diverse and pristine marine ecosystems left on earth. Just a few years ago long-line fishermen were pulling out a dozen or so 1.5 meter long reef sharks in a single day, but now they catch almost nothing except a handful of baby sharks each week.

Most of the shark fishermen have moved on to find new shark fishing grounds. The shark fishermen that remain now use miles of bottom drift nets instead of lines. These nets scrape off the coral reefs and catch everything in their path including baby sharks, reef fish, turtles, rays and manta rays. The situation has clearly hit rock bottom for sharks and the outlook for the rest of the ecosystem is not good.

After a week of documenting desperate fishermen plunder their dwindling resources, I spent the latter part of my visit filming in the Marine Protected Area surrounding Misool Eco Resort, where I had originally encountered shark finning.

A few years ago, I saw no sharks in this region, but now I observed young reef sharks patrolling the walls and reefs. And a dozen juvenile black tip reef sharks were hunting in the shallows. The local villages that once fished these waters were now employed at the resort and as rangers. They were partners in the protection of their reefs. Their jobs and the entire marine protected area were funded through dive eco-tourism. A far more sustainable way to profit from the oceans.

The unique combination of marine protection, community involvement and sustainable tourism can turn the tide on a seemingly impossible situation, a beacon of hope for our oceans in peril.

Even in a short period of time, the transformation can be significant. And the more people that consciously choose to become part of the solution, the more global the impact.

_________________________

Editor's Note: Shawn is a scuba diver, cinematographer, and marine conservationist, working to protect the environment. As an independent filmmaker and founder of Blue Sphere Media, a production company specializing in underwater and adventure films, he has a unique opportunity to influence our collective mind set and globally fuel the 'blue movement.' His award-winning work has been featured in broadcast, promotional and conservation productions around the world. In addition, he is a published conservation photo journalist.

___________________________
UPDATE FROM SHAWN: A lot of people have been asking me how they can learn more and get involved. Here are some organizations that I am am working with today, each focusing on a unique aspect of the shark finning issue:

Leading the charge: wildaid.org

Grassroots: sharksavers.org

Join a movement: sharkangels.org

Direct action: seashepherd.org

Education: saveourseas.com

Get involved and make a difference!


Filed under: Planet in Peril • Shawn Heinrichs
soundoff (205 Responses)
  1. Neeneko

    Ah, the classic 'rising middle class' problem.

    Rich people eat shark fin soup because it is traditionally a 'rich guy' food. Lower class starts getting money, wants to do rich guy stuff. Demand for rich guy foodstuffs goes up and poof. It doesn't matter what it tastes like, as long as it has the imagry of 'this is what rich people do' to it.

    Sharks are not the only example. 'Traditional Medicine' in china is also taking a heavy toll on quite a few species as more middle class people get the cash to afford things like tiger-ball aphrodisiacs. And of course 'modern medicine' is 'unnatural' so they go with 'ancient wisdom' instead.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:18 am |
  2. john hale

    how do stop this..don't people know that what we do will hurt us in the long run..we just can't keep on killing everything..we do need these animals to survive ourself..people just know or just don't care..but goverments need to put a stop to this

    December 10, 2008 at 11:17 am |
  3. Chris

    I am tired of people painting sharks as majestic animals worthy of love and adoration. The author evens goes as far as to tell us how he swims with hammerheads and gets close to bulls, and that they aren't mindless killing machines that attack for no reason...

    Tell that to the 2 people in FL who were attacked by bull sharks in the last 3 years. Both were unprovoked, and one person died. Tell that to the numbers of people killed in the last few years in India by bull sharks swimming upriver. Tell that to the triathlete who was swimming around San Diego earlier this year on a training swim who was killed by a Great White.

    Granted, unprovoked shark attacks are rare, fatalities even rarer. But that's little consolation if you are one of the people who lose a limb or worse just having a day at the beach. Maybe the solution is to agressively mitigate the more agressive species, such as bulls, GW's, and tigers?

    December 10, 2008 at 11:07 am |
  4. SC

    It's all demand and supply folks........The more people are willing to pay for these "one of a kind" things in foods, clothing, etc etc, you are encouraging a behavior that is ruthless, cruel but all done in the name of economics.

    BAN these things, drive these restaurants into ground by NOT supporting these foods and they will stop buying these cruelty-driven products which will create no incentive for doing such things.

    It's all supply and demand. So, stopping the demand is in YOUR HANDS! Instead DEMAND for environmentally appropriate things!!

    December 10, 2008 at 10:57 am |
  5. Queena

    Thanks for the dedication and resolve you show for a situation that is having lethal consequences to our ecosystem as a whole.
    The governments involved need to stop issuing permits that rape and pillage our earth. The "local" fishermen, as a whole, are uneducated and sounds like these government officials are as well.
    We need to take back control of our marine borders!

    December 10, 2008 at 10:54 am |
  6. a reader

    There are two issues being mixed here: one is the issue of environmental protection, the other being the legitimacy/non-legitimacy of eating shark fin soup. The former is unquestionably important in all forms. The latter, however, is a cultural issue about what people eat, and needs to be separated from the environmental question. If sharks could be domesticated/harvested/bred in large numbers, and there was no threat of their extinction, could they be eaten, just like we eat chickens and beef and pork that are domesticated/harvested/bred en masse (in cruel conditions, might I add...)? For cows and chickens would've been extinct, had they not been domesticated and artificially increased as they are in certain countries that people are more familiar with around here. Is it the condemnation of eating sharks vs cows? My sense is that there is a certain hypocrisy about meat preferences based on the "western" diet, with preconceived notions about the "barbarian" ways of those who eat other types of living things. Protecting the environment is absolutely legitimate and important; a condemnation of a diet and cuisine culturally different from one's own is plain dogged hypocrisy.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:43 am |
  7. Srikanth

    Heart wrenching to see this happen to these majestic creatures.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:39 am |
  8. TB Dziem

    It's atrocity. it's criminal.
    The best solution may be for somebody to farm the shark and harvest what they need, similar to chicken, oyster, gooduck, or salmon... instead of killing them in the wild.
    Until then, let's not eat those soup

    December 10, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  9. Dee Fairbanks

    Humans are naturally evil and greedy and I am frequently ashamed to be one. Many people are able to stifle this inner evil and greed but something must be done to stop those who are destroying the world's wildllife. Who do they think they are? Wildlife belongs to NOone...we have no right to slaughter it like this. Just another reason to turn vegetarian everyone!!

    December 10, 2008 at 10:34 am |
  10. stacey

    I am sitting here at my computer with tears wheling in my eyes at the thoughtless, money hungry shark killers.
    I began scuba diving only a few years ago but as a child wanted to be a marine biologist or ichthiologist as a lover of all underwater life. I have been facinated with sharks all of my life and think they are so mis-represented and the most beautiful creatures alive, simply trying to survive in the environment God provided for THEM NOT US!

    December 10, 2008 at 10:32 am |
  11. John

    To the poster who suggested we all sign a petition and get this kind of thing banned...

    This is happening in Indonesia. It's being done by fishermen who have few other professional options, and have children to feed. That doesn't excuse it, but who among us wouldn't chop up a school of sharks to feed our children?

    A better solution involves (1) eliminating demand for the fins through increasing awareness of the true ecological cost, and (2) providing these people with alternative viable means for providing for themselves.

    A petition? Banning behavior in another country? That's kinda arrogant, unrealistic, and gets us (the U.S.) hated.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:24 am |
  12. Machutta

    I just cannot believe how ignorant this type of fishing is! Such a waste and it sickens me that nothing is really being done about it. It should become illegal to hunt shark just for the sake of their fins and whoever came up with the idea for shark fin soup should have their legs cut off and thrown in the ocean to drown.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:22 am |
  13. Kaylan

    What is more horrifying is that animals are abused right under our noses in factory farms. I recently watched a public tv show about chickens and they show baby chicks being tossed on conveyor belts and basically treated (even thrown into trash bags if they are not to be used) like objects rather than living creatures. Now I love to eat meat but there is a humane way to treat animals without throwing them around like objects and those who run and create factory farms need to look at what they have done. If we didn't have them, just imagine how many good family farms we'd still have today. It is all about greed and the animals suffer and many consumers have no idea where their meat comes from.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:19 am |
  14. Fintastic

    This is an interesting report. Lets help them out by teaching them how to set up a shark hatchery. Fin soup mmm that sounds good to me.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:08 am |
  15. Katie

    Be it the fins of sharks, the ivory from elephants or the horns of rhino's people seem to have a knack for exploitation. No species, even our own, is safe from a vast array of abuses by those who seek power and control over the world. Child slavery and the genocide in Africa is clear proof of that. From the fishing vessels that scour the oceans for shark fins, to the cruel warlords in Africa there is exploitation at all levels. Sadly, the systematic destruction of a species or even a group of people for indiscriminate gain is alive and well. One might feel overwhelmed by all this and that nothing we do will stem the growing tide of greed and destruction across the planet. I feel it is vital that we don't lose heart and feel despair. As an individual it is our responsibility to act locally but think globally and that together though awareness and education we have the means to combat the injustices of the world.

    December 10, 2008 at 10:02 am |
  16. David Powell

    Thank you for bringing this issue out. It's a big one in the oceans and people need to know about it. Being that close to it you must have been pretty sickened and pissed off, I know I would be.

    Thank you very much for doing this report, sorry it hurt your vacation but thank you very much for telling us about it!

    December 10, 2008 at 9:59 am |
  17. Audrey

    Personally I think we need more Sea Shepherds. This documentary and/or all the horror and facts that could ever be presented will not change a thing. Countries like this,China and Japan will never heed this message and there is nothing we can do about it.

    Animals in Peril will only end when there are no more animals.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:56 am |
  18. Catherine Luckins

    What are we doing to our world? These innocent creatures of the ocean and land for that fact are being brutilized by man! What will be left for our children and grandchildren to enjoy? We have to leave all wildlife alone and let them flourish again and be amazed at how important they are to the survival of this planet! People just don't get it! They musst think that they reproduce faster than what is taken! The governments need to enforce this brutal slayings of our world and make sure that people that do this are given the same punishment as what they do to these poor animals!! I love the beauty of the nature of our world and I teach my children to respect and admire all nature!!!!!
    Thanks for listening, I do my part.......... make sure everyone does theirs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 10, 2008 at 9:49 am |
  19. Joe Soap

    Keep up the good work AC – I love you!

    Sharks are the most amazing creatures on the planet and we need to protect them and other marine life from the selfish grubby fingers of humanity. Asia needs a wake-up call and start managing their marine resources better.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:44 am |
  20. Anil

    This is absolutely disgusting. I just can't understand why we still kill such beautiful creatures. Slowly but surely we are going to erradicate the whales and dolphins by illegal fishing and now sharks because of some loophole in the system. This really needs to stop.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:40 am |
  21. bailee

    I think this should most definitely be stopped. These animals are coming closer and closer to extinction.
    It makes me sick to my stomach at how they are killing these sharks just for their fins. There is no sinse in the matter. There's plenty other ways of getting food.
    NOT by this way. I don't like for any animal to get killed. And i have always had a problem with it. But this has just got me the absolute most upset. They're not even using the entire body of the shark, just the fin. (ridiculous)
    I'm definitely with whoever is trying their best to stop this.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:32 am |
  22. Anna

    The dwindling shark population has been a concern of mine for many years. I love these beautiful creatures and educate myself as much as I can on their situation. It pains me to think about sharks, who have lived and evolved for 400 million years, might soon be extinct because of human actions.

    I have contacted local government officials in New York, but to no avail. There are "shark fairs" during the summer months along the eastern coast of the US, during which sharks, mostly mature, full grown sharks, are pulled from their environment and put on display.

    I have been told to contact the local fisheries of New York and other states, in order to put a complaint and to speak against this cruel practice.

    Is there something that everyday people, like myself can do to help protect the sharks? I will dedicate my time and effort to the best of my ability. I am simply asking for resources, outlets other than contacting local fisheries which are business entities and have lost all touch with reality and posses little humanity.

    Thank you!

    December 10, 2008 at 9:28 am |
  23. Cindy

    Great article!

    It is sad that people look at sharks as man eaters and nothing but killers. Like you said that is the farthest thing from the truth. Without them the ecosystem of the seas will fail and everything will be all screwed up for sure.

    I can't believe that it is not illegal to shark fin. Cutting off their fin and then throwing them back into the ocean to drown is just so inhumane. Plus if they don't limit the number killed each year then the shark numbers will dwindle fast to barely non-existent.

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:27 am |
  24. Kelly

    That is absolutely disgusting and terrible. We definitely need to do something to prevent this from happening.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:25 am |
  25. John

    I used to sell seafood and shark was about my favorite, why would they throw the best part away?

    December 10, 2008 at 9:22 am |
  26. Ajay K. Shrestha

    Shawn,
    My sincere appreciation to you and your team for shedding light on the significance of marine ecosystems and the events in Raja Ampat. I hope people will learn to work together in conserving animals and the natural habitat. I hope people will realize their small effort can make a huge difference collectively. Regards.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:20 am |
  27. Katherine

    I totally believe that the world should know about what is going on with the sharks. I found out about the soup because my aunt is Chinese and they have a 100 day party for a baby. My uncle and my aunt were looking at what they should serve at this dinner. They saw that there was Shark Fin Soup, my uncle realized what that meant. When he told me why they hadn't decided to serve Shark Fin Soup, I was so outraged.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:19 am |
  28. CJ

    So what can I do to help curb this insane practice?

    December 10, 2008 at 9:17 am |
  29. carmen lacombe

    yes I agree with you and when I come back form
    Afghanistan in 6 months I would like to know what I can do to help right now I'm going to support the troops but when I come back I will probably have a new way of seeing things because Off what I will see and ear in these camps

    so leave me an adress so I can get in touch with somebody and help by internet bywritting or anything that I could do
    the planet is our home and we are destructing it for our childrenn
    I don't have much money but I have a big mouth and I used it for defending people that can I'm 58 years old and I an not affraid of anything and I can push my way
    bye for now

    December 10, 2008 at 9:12 am |
  30. Chris

    One can only hope these fisherman come head to head with a Great White or Tiger Shark, and they get what they deserve... death themselves...

    December 10, 2008 at 9:08 am |
  31. Quarrydiver

    Great article. I am also an avid scuba diver. It is so sad to see this once beautiful world being destroyed by man's ignorance. The main reason sharks are finned is because it is believed that the cartilage is an aphrodisiac. Yes, a sex enhancer. It's cartilage,..... the same thing in your nose, ears & in the joints. It will do NOTHING to enhance your sex life. The disappearance of shark will do the same thing as the disappearance of wolves. Other species' populations will explode & the entire ecosystem will be out of whack. This killing is on par with what the white man did to the Bison population on the Great Plains. Kill a magnificent animal for only it's tongue, leave the rest to rot. Hopefully, I'll not see anything close to that when I visit Malaysia this spring. I have dove the Caribbean many times & would like to see some new & diverse animals to enjoy them. I just hope the next generation & those following can also.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:08 am |
  32. Leland

    I just read this on CNN...horrifying...

    December 10, 2008 at 9:04 am |
  33. Sanjoy

    We need determined people like Shawn to highlight where we are heading; when will the 'great nations' like China wake up to these horrible realities and ban such things in earnest. Developed and civilised countries should start a movement to stem the loss – man as it turns out is the greatest enemy of this planet.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:04 am |
  34. JT Bass

    i think that you are the most incredible person on this blue earth man! i love sharks and i think its really cool that your trying to pertect them. They are one of the most important species on our planet, and esp. in the ocean.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:53 am |
  35. Michael D. Houst

    "desperate fishermen plunder their dwindling resources"

    It's been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different result.

    By this definition, those desperate fishermen are insane.

    So are the people who issued the $30 finning permit.

    Both groups either don't know, or don't care what the results of their behavior are. If the first, maybe they can change with enforced re-education. If the latter, they should be "finned" and left to feed the few remaining sharks.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:51 am |
  36. Elisabeth

    The sharks slaughtered for their fins, dolphins killed by the pod, elephants and rhinos killed for tusks and horns, deer and elk killed for antlers, bears, wolves, cougars, coyotes and foxes killed in senseless fear.... It's nothing new. Human ignorance and greed has depleted many animal populations, put many close to extinction, and completely killed off a few already. The only way to change that is to teach Earth Pride at a young age... and hope for the best.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:51 am |
  37. Donna

    Mankind is the worst thing to happen to earth – we need to stop killing and destroying everything around us.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:44 am |
  38. Lee

    This makes me so angry. No one would condone cutting off a lion's tail, or the paws off a polar bear, or the wings off an eagle. But so few people care about sharks. Yes, they attack.... like any other predator.

    All shark species are slow breeders. They don't have large litters. They don't reach sexual maturity for several years. A hundred young sharks is a huge chunk of the population dead, unable to breed and provide for the next generation.

    Make it stop.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:41 am |
  39. Richard Adams

    A perfect example of how primitive and naive homo sapiens' are! What an awful plague we have become!

    December 10, 2008 at 8:40 am |
  40. Cindy

    My God – when will people ever learn. Something really needs to be done about this before the Shark is another to be added to the exinct species list.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:38 am |
  41. Frank Star

    I am always appalled at mans greedy destruction and wasteful use of the worlds natural resources. In the race for financial profit humans are quickly turning the earth into a concrete dump. What I am even more surprised at is why the God fearing religions of the world are not condemning what man has done to this precious gift that God has given us. Religious leader’s lack of guidance and concern makes them and their God fearing flocks of followers as guilty as the shark fin fishermen, as well as the world’s polluters, indiscriminate land developers, etc., etc.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:34 am |
  42. Waddell Robey

    This report is just one example of the combination of greed, need, and ignorance that leads all of us to abuse our home, planet Earth. Shawn's report is vital, but unless there is an increased international attention to all environmental issues there is little chance this kind of mindless slaughter will stop.

    Additionally, until we find ways to consistently help those people and those nations that have high needs and poor understanding of how to address their needs we will continue to face dreadful outcomes for all of us and our environment.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:31 am |
  43. Norman Bates

    I used to eat Shark Fin soup but stopped about 15 years ago once I found out about the waste and wholesale slaughter. It seems that about once a year someone notices this issue, and then it fades away. Sadly, it will be the sharks that end up fading away.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:28 am |
  44. Bonnie Schweinler

    Shame on them!! This is one of the cruelest assaults on a species since man appeared on earth!!! It has to be stopped!!!!! How would these people feel if their arms were cut off!!!

    December 10, 2008 at 8:27 am |
  45. Jamie

    I agree these people that are fishing for sharks just for their fins need to be stopped. It is rediculous, the first time I heard a story about fishing for sharks just for their fins was about 18 years ago ( I was in elementry school). Since that story I have been a die hard shark fan and wanting to help stop the shark finning and shark fishing. These beautiful creatures do not deserve this kind of treatment! Thanks for the story it was a great read!

    December 10, 2008 at 8:23 am |
  46. Gregg in Tahoe City CA.

    Hi Shawn...unfortunately all throughout our history human beings have thought themselves to be masters of their environment...we are a greedy, wasteful, arrogant and an APATHETIC society where most of us JUST DON'T CARE....thanks to your features those commited to the Earth stay informed on the apathy of humans in general.... what can change this mindset?...concerned humans do what they can, but its like standing in front of 1000 crazed humans at a K-Mart on black friday....when the asteroid strikes in 2012, human civilization will be destroyed and Earth will go on,,,,, keep up the great reporting....

    December 10, 2008 at 8:21 am |
  47. Jere'

    Omg! that is really breathe taking to know that sharks are being killed for their fins. Is there a petition that we could start to ban them from killing the sharks? I completely understand why you would b upset, I am upset as well. It is cruel and mean and just such, I do not know I am just lost for words after what I just read.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:15 am |
  48. mark

    Thank you for what you do. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    December 10, 2008 at 7:54 am |
  49. zaphod2000

    It is disgusting what some people are doing to our planet. A restaurant in Columbia, MD, Hunan Manor, started selling shark fin soup. My family will NEVER again, unless they take it off the menu, go to this restaurant.
    One of the best in the area but not worth it if sharks are needlessly dying for a cup of soup.

    December 10, 2008 at 7:52 am |
  50. Bev McMullan-Kungl

    When is enough...enough? I am so sick and tired of hearing about our abuse of wildlife, domestic animals and our environment. Sharks are dying needlessly to make shark fin soup...what a waste of this magnificant species. Wildlife is being killed to put fur on the backs of men and women. In some areas of Asia they are killing dogs and cats for their fur...how horrendous is this???? Fishermen are killing our whales and and other valuable wildlife like dolphins and what about the seal hunt? Just look at what is happeneing to the tiger and the elephant? I could go on and on.
    What has happened to us? I'm not very proud to be a human right now...in fact, I'm very ashamed. We will be the death of this planet if we don't smarten up and do something about it. This has to stop NOW!!!!

    December 10, 2008 at 7:46 am |
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