“You’re Mean!” and The Problem With Shark Fin Soup

A funny thing happened today but it also made me think. The wisdom of children never ceases to amaze me.

One of the props that I use while I’m volunteering in the Shark and Ray Encounter exhibit is a real shark fin.

It’s illegal for people to buy and sell shark fins in most of the world and from time to time the aquarium receives the confiscated fins to be used as an educational tool.

Today, I was showing a group of 8 – 9 yr. olds the shark fin and talking to them about the properties of shark skin. One of the girls in the group asked me if the shark fin was real. I told her it was.

She immediately got a disgusted look on her face and said, “You’re mean!”. She then turned around and walked out of the room.

She was right—the person who mutilated the original owner of the fin I held in my hand was mean. Allow me to explain why…

Shark Fin Soup

Shark fins are used in a soup by the same name. The soup is a centuries old Chinese dish and it is served throughout the world.

The problem with shark fin soup is the unsustainable and cruel way in which the sharks are killed for their fins. The practice is known as shark finning and it is a disgusting waste.

Confiscated Shark Fins

Confiscated Shark Fins

source: wikipedia

Shark Finning

I won’t go into much detail here about how shark finning works but here is a link if you would like to read more about it: Shark Finning.

The short version is that the fins are removed from the shark and then the shark is discarded back into the ocean to die from its injuries. What a tragic waste!

As a volunteer at the aquarium, one of my jobs is to teach the guests about conservation. Some of the guests understand immediately—like that little girl who scolded me.

She was right. Shark finning is mean.

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