Thursday 21 May 2009

Animals and Environment: Do Sharks Deserve to Die for Their Fins?


Recently, I bumped into a video of my favourite animal since I was young, a video that showed something that I never would have thought about but appeared to be true, that sharks can really be trained just like dogs, dolphins and seals, that they can even perform tricks for human!!!!

How bizarre (meaning "very strange and unusual") is that!!!!

I have transcribed the script of the movie clips here for everybody to read:


"At Chicago's John G. Shredd Aquarium, scientists have opened their revolutionary classroom, a training program used on dolphins and whales has been adapted for an unlikely subject.

It started about 3 years ago, when I first started aquarium's shark school new exhibits, and we began training them behind the scenes in our holding facilities.

For the first time, Shedd placed all shark species in one big tank to avoid feeding frenzy of wild breed, each specie now answers to its own dinner bell.

All the sharks are given auditory call, and then you put their shape in the water. We do our colour contrast to make sure that if they don't see colour necessary but they do see the contrast so they understand that's their shape. And as they approach the shape, we feed them food on the end of tongs as a positive reinforcement.

The training does more than reduce competition, it shatters stereotype.

The idea that these sharks are man-eaters that don't think is definitely starting to change. These animals are very intelligent, they respond to so many different things and they can learn and they understand when they are doing something right.

A star pupil named 'Seamour' not only responds to touch, he performs like a trained seal.

My favourite is looking for Zebra sharks. They are the most responsive to the training, they are sort of like puppy dogs, they love to have their noses rubbed, they loved to be rubbed on their bellies, it just have been so enlightening and very rewarding to see a shark do something that know you normally see a dolphin do. I enjoy every day coming in and seeing these guys just knock my socks off. They amaze me every day."


I have loved sharks all my life. I despise the eating of shark fins and I never eat it myself. In fact, sharks being at the top of the food chain, carry so much mercury that anyone who eats sharks is prone to mercury poisoning. After watching the movie clip, I understand that sharks are indeed way more clever than we thought. If sharks can do what dogs can do, and we are eating them, doesn't that make you feel like eating dogs?

Looking up on the internet and you can easily find cruel photos of many shark massacres. Like the photo above, the sharks are killed with their fins removed, also known as "finning", while they were still alive and then thrown back into the sea when they eventually died agonizingly of blood loss and suffocation. Have you ever put salt on your wounds? Guess how the sharks feel in the salty sea water?

According to an article on Encyclopedia Britannica -- Advocacy for Animals, "about 73 million sharks are killed each year in this (finning) fashion.

Sharks are not always man-eaters. They are in fact monitors and monitresses of the sea. They helped to clean up injured fish and sea animals thus maintaining the ocean's eco balance. Just like too many sea stars will do very bad harm to mussels and beautiful corals, thus some sharks consume these sea stars to keep the balance.

The tiger sharks are famous for their unbiased appetite, that they eat anything they come across, and it is not hard to find tin-cans, boots, car license plates, plastics, etc. inside their bodies. Who throws all these into the ocean? Man does. Who cleans them up with their body? The tiger sharks do. Who is doing more for the environment? I think you have the answers.

Let me introduce some sharks I like to you next time. Till then, please go to this WWF website for further reading and take a look at the leaflet they published.

Please love the sharks. Will you?

revolutionary -- completely new and having a great effect
frenzy -- uncontrolled and excited behaviour
shatter -- to end something
stereotype -- a fixed idea that people have, especially one that is wrong
knock sb's socks off -- to surprise sb very much
despise -- to dislike sb or sth very much, to hate sth or sb
be prone to -- tending to suffer from sth
agonizing -- causing extreme pain
suffocation -- death due to lack of oxygen

picture sources: