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Dear Jabberjaw, where did we go wrong?

Duuuuuh duh………duuuuuuuh duh……….duuuuuh duh, duh duh, duuuuh duh, duh duh, duuuuuh duh, duh duh, duuuuuuh duh, duh duh……duhdalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh……………………

I used to be afraid of sharks; how about you? Afterall, I grew up in the 70’s; the era of Peter Benchley’s Jaw’s, the picture of a woman swimming for her life with her very dated bikini, barely clinging on, racing for what seemed like an eternity against a swimming machine, only to lose the battle. I admit that when I played in the sea as a kid, this theme song would pop into my head, (if it did i quickly hummed something else to distract myself); and if the song didn’t appear in my mind, there was always some other silly ass kid willing to sing it for me, while we stood with our feet clutching the soft sand; the water moving us slowly back and forth with the waves, vivid images in my mind of a fin rising out of the water, coming faster and faster toward me.

The days of swimming in the sea have gone for now, as I live near very cold waters.  When I am back home though to warmer waters, and softer pebble free sands, I no longer fear sharks. I think of sharks as amazing creatures. I think of the sea as theirs, and that I am only in the very edge of their home for a short visit. The childhood fears that haunted me when I went eastbound to the coast, in those long ago, hot mosquito filled summers, imagining my first dive into the grey/blue/brown water were nothing in comparison to the fears I have now that one day, very soon, nobody will have to fear sharks at all. This sounds like a dream, no? It is more of a nightmare.

As a lover of, and person who respects all forms of life, I am presently, absolutely and utterly terrified of the idea that in the next few years, the shark population is going to plummet dramatically.  Far more than a shark bite; these days I fear a stark, shark reality; one where humans are using up every single resource and every living being for their enjoyment. What I fear and loathe as an adult is what that great icon of all humanity idolize: greenbacks. I fear and loathe what money causes people to do.

People will do just about anything for money. Wait, no, people WILL do absolutely anything for money. Hell, they’d sell their mom if they could, and didn’t think they’d be found out, and they’d take that money with a big fat smile on their faces.  As long as there is a demand for something, there will exist the supply. Thankfully, at the moment, their really isn’t much of a demand for mom! However, as of current statistics, there IS quite a demand for a special, yucky concoction called shark fin soup. In fact, there is QUITE the demand for fins. Approximately 70 million sharks are caught per year, have their fins cut off in a sawing motion aboard a sea vessel, and are thrown back into the sea to sink slowly to the bottom. The photo above is a hammerhead shark, having had its fins chopped off, and then tossed back into the water. Below you can see the fin actually being removed from another poor victim of human greed and gluttony.

Just when you thought that most bad things only happened on land, or in the stuff of horror films, enter the newest form of torture; thought up by real clever entrepreneurs, who figured out a way to make loads of money by slaughtering creatures for yet another medicinal/status symbol which began in…drum roll….duhn duhn duhn duuuuuuhhhhhhhhnnnnnn??????????  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>China. That’s right. The Chinese learned how to eat just about anything that crawled, slithered, walked, wobbled, swam, etc., when they were experiencing famine. They used to use the entire animal in fact, as they were hungry, and saved all the parts. This could possibly be attributed to the fact that back then, they were not only starving, but their values were different, and it probably would have been seen as a great disrespect to take the life of a living being only for say, its arms.

Now however, the demand for this “delicacy” has risen, and spread across the globe, with many very wealthy people willing to pay a very un-pretty penny for a bowl of soup. Regarding shark fin soup, Wikipedia says, “The shark fins provide texture while the taste comes from the other soup ingredients. There is controversy over the practice of shark finning. Consumption of shark fin soup has risen dramatically with the middle class becoming more affluent. Finning is named as a primary contributing factor in the global decline of many shark species.Fishing fleets catch around 70 million sharks a year as of 2010. As their income levels have increased, Chinese communities around the world are showing a greater demand for shark fins. This increase in demand, combined with the importance of this top predator in the ocean, has the potential to significantly alter oceanic ecosystems.

This bowl of suffering, which purportedly has zero flavour, but is deemed a great symbol of prosperity, is loved not only by the rich, but also by the plebs who feel it necessary to imitate the rich, thereby creating an enormous demand for the fins, to create one of the most WASTEFUL, and most cruel meals ever made.

The numbers are truly beyond comprehension.  I would like to repeat the number here again if I may: around 70 MILLION sharks a year. This number is probably too big for any one of us to grasp, so here is a photo of one of the many drying stations set up for the fins.  There are thousands of fins. The enormity of the situation is harrowing.

Shark fins are dried before traveling to their destinations, where they will then become a hot, steaming bowl of liquid for a food enthusiast, a chef, a wealthy family, or the aspiring rich, to have a taste of something so taboo; something so horrifying that it makes them quiver with delight on the inside at knowing how expensive their dish was, how it was “harvested”, and probably most importantly, how it affects their outward appearances by making them look like a right wealthy chap/chappess.  Or the other possibility, they have absolutely NO idea, as I think 90% of the population cannot even think farther than about a five minute span in either front or in back of them, much less to consider the origin of ANYTHING in their lives, least of all the gelatinous blob in their $100 bowl of soup, for example.

This catastrophe has become so widespread, that even Gordon Ramsey, the chef that uses all types of animals to spread across his very chic plates, has become horrified at the thought of cutting off shark fins and dropping the sharks back in the sea. He did a show about it in fact. I HIGHLY recommend watching it. It is brief, and it will take you on a cultural tour of foreign restaurants to boats, to back alleys, all for the purpose of  giving you a feeling for the devastation and havoc that is being wreaked.  It is called, Shark Bait. There are three parts, but I highly recommend watching all the parts to get a clear picture of the devastation that is happening for humans’ selfish desire to swallow up everything in their path.

All of this torture for a bowl of soup. I cannot help but think of the irony that while people are sitting round their tables, sipping at their bowls of this soup, approximately 192 THOUSAND sharks are sent to a watery, slow and painful grave per day, meaning that at any given hour during someone’s meal, about 8000 sharks are sinking to the bottom of the sea for this:

Please oh please oh please share this information with everyone you know. We have to spread the word, and help put a stop to this infamy.

UPDATE:

Right now,

Gov. Brown will likely make his final decision on Wednesday, September 28th. Your call (916-445-2841) on Monday, September 26th, supporting AB 376 is critical for the fate of sharks. The shark fin trade is especially huge in California, which represents about 85 percent of the total U.S. shark fin consumption. A ban on shark finning in California would make waves across the U.S. and throughout the world’s oceans. Fin importers and the restaurant industry are spending big money to lobby the governor to veto AB 376, enlisting the help of politicos like Willie Brown and Pius Lee to put pressure on the governor.
Right now is a crucial time for ocean supporters to rally around the passage of AB 376. That’s why the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance (APA Alliance) is holding a call-in day Monday, September 26th. Call Governor Brown: 916-445-2841 PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STEP UP THE PRESSURE!!! 70 million SHARKS have their FINS CHOPPED OR SERATED OFF AND ARE TOSSED back into the sea. SHare with all of your friends now before it is too late…

UPDATE * Governor Brown Tweets: “Today I signed a ban on the sale or possession of shark fins in order to protect our oceans and environment.”

And now, for something COMPLETELY different: “Finland” by Monty Python