I’m neck-deep in paper-writing this week and next. But I just wandered past the television on my way to get another Diet Coke, and 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon was talking about how sharks are facing extinction because of finning:

In some regions, shark populations are down 90 percent, and some species are approaching extinction.

Why is this happening?

The answer boils down, literally, to soup. Shark fin soup. In China, it’s been an expensive status symbol for millennia. Chefs in the emperor’s court were once beheaded if they prepared it incorrectly. But these days, with China booming, more people can pay $100 for a bowl. Finning sharks is a billion-dollar business, and it’s not a pretty sight.

That’s because as soon as a shark is caught, his fins are cut off and he is thrown overboard, alive, to sink to the bottom and drown…

So the shark is killed, quite brutally, for a minute fraction of its edible flesh – the rest of which sinks to the ocean floor. This kind of “thinking” makes my head hurt.

The whole story – on shark tourism – is here.

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