Kids ASK! about Pets & Animals
Shark’s fin… With the coming of Chinese New Year, some families will choose to have their reunion dinners banquet style—10 course dinners and such. That also means that many poor sharks would have sacrificed their lives to be on these dinner tables.
The move to protect sharks is only something of recent years. Sharks are killed for their fins, which are considered delicacies. Due to its popularity as a dish at wedding banquets and formal Chinese dinners, shark populations are diminishing faster than they can reproduce. As a result, shark populations have plummeted so much that it prompted an international call to action.
Sharks have 5 different kinds of fins:
1) Paired pectoral fins that lift the shark as it swims.
2) Paired pelvic fins that help to stabilize the shark.
3) One or two dorsal fins that stabilize the shark.
4) An anal fin – not all sharks have this but it provides stability for those that do.
5) The caudal or tail fin that moves the shark forward.
Depending on the species, a shark can produce up to 10 fins and all of them can be eaten though they may vary in price depending on what fin it is and the species of the shark. The tail fin of a shark is usually the most expensive, for example, the tail fin of the Basking shark can cost about US$10 000.
This part surprised me. I was under the assumption that only one or two fins from the shark can be eaten but a search through the net proved otherwise. What we are really eating is the cartilage—the shark’s fin is cooked for a long time until the fin breaks up into noodle-like strands and that would be the cartilage of the fin. It is believed that shark’s fin has medicinal properties but there are also others who say that shark’s fin can be harmful if consumed consistently over a long period of time due to high levels of mercury.
However, the strongest case against shark fishing is the practice of finning. Finning is the practice of cutting of the shark’s fins and then throwing the shark’s body back to the sea. Sometimes these sharks are still alive when thrown back and end up either drowning or getting eaten by other fishes. Finning has been made illegal in U.S. fishing waters since the year 2000 but is not necessarily effective due to the high demand for shark’s fin, which encourages fishermen to continue such an act because it saves them money.
Shark’s fin is still very popular is Singapore.
Title: Nature’s predators: sharks by Kris Hirschmann
Call No.: J 597.3 HIR
Ocean Of Know, Fins. Retrieved January 8, 2008, from Ocean Of Know Web site: http://oceanofk.org/sharks/fin.html
Pellissier, H. (2003, Jan 20). Shark Fin Soup: An Eco-Catastrophe?. Retrieved January 8, 2008, from SFGate.com Web site: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/g/archive/2003/01/20/urbananimal.DTL
Hui, S. (2005, Jun 13). Sellers shrug off shark fin brouhaha as just business. Retrieved January 8, 2008, from The Standard Web site: http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/
Sample, I. (2006, Aug 31). Sharks pay high price as demand for fins soars. Retrieved January 8, 2008, from The Guardian Web site: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/
If you want to find out more information on sharks
What do sharks eat for dinner?: questions and answers about sharks by Melvin and Gilda Berger
Publisher : New York : Scholastic, c2000
Call No. : J 597.3 BER
Nature’s predators: sharks by Kris Hirschmann
Publisher : San Diego, Calif. : KidHaven Press, c2002
Call No. : J 597.3 HIR
100 facts on sharks by Steve Parker
Publisher : Great Bardfield, Essex : Bardfield Press, 2007
Call No. : J 597.3 PAR
All websites are last accessed on 9 January 2008. Please refer to the terms and conditions on the homepages for use.
All images used are extracted from http://www.amazon.com and http://www.bn.com.
For the availability of the above book titles, please check the library catalogue.
Originally answered by Stephanie Tan, Librarian, Children’s Services
Contributed by Felicia Chan, Librarian, Children’s Services
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