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15 animals making headlines

By: Laura Moss on April 22, 2011, 12:04 p.m.
shark fin in ocean

Photo: ZUMA Press

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Sharks

Shark populations are collapsing worldwide, and scientists blame shark-finning — the practice of slicing off the fins of live sharks and then throwing them back into the ocean to die — for their declining numbers. Between 26-73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, which are used to meet the demand for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy. Shark fins have been coveted in Chinese cooking for centuries because they supposedly boost sexual potency, improve skin quality and prevent heart disease. Although shark fin soup is an extremely popular dish, concerned people from across Asia are working to protect the animals, and many are foregoing tradition and not serving the soup at weddings and other celebrations. Two California assemblymen recently proposed a law to ban the sale of shark fins in the state, but Chinese-American market and restaurant owners argue that the proposed ban is discriminatory.