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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chinese New Year celebrants targeted in shark-fin campaign

Begin your new year with the auspicious act of saying NO to shark fin! If you really want to 年年有鱼 then it's time to actually play a part in the conservation of our oceans.

Went to Carrefour in Suntec City last weekend and the sheer number of shark fin products was depressing! At least a few tens of thousands of sharks would have died to populate those shelves. And for such a meagre price too.

Hopefully we can get some local retailers to follow the lead of other ethical and environmentally-friendly restuarants and outlets and stop selling shark fin.
Chinese New Year celebrants targeted in shark-fin campaign
Jan 28, 2009 06:28 PM, The Star

VANCOUVER – Chinese New Year celebrations are underway and that means a feast for Asian families gathering to mark the Year of the Ox, although it's the shark that environmentalists are worried about.

While (shark fin) soup is coveted for its supposed medicinal qualities based on the myth that sharks never get sick, Chen (Shu-Jen Chen, Humane Society International) said her group is trying to educate people about the high mercury level in shark fins that's potentially harmful, especially for pregnant women.

She said Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore were the world's largest consumers of the soup but now China, with its booming economy, is the global capital. She said Vancouver and Toronto, with their high Asian populations, also see the soup on menus.

Chen said that while it's hard to convince restaurateurs to take shark fin soup off the menu, her group recently scored a major victory at the Taiwan National Palace Museum restaurant, where the delicacy is no longer served for ethical reasons.

Last week, the food distributor Loblaws stopped selling shark fin soup for Chinese New Year at its Great Canadian Superstore outlets after a campaign by (Toronto filmmaker Rob) Stewart's group Saving Sharks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

15 Sharks Die At Indy Zoo

This is a prime example of how "love" and "care" is no substitute for the natural environment of these pelagic and free-roaming creatures. I would hate for the whale shark destined for Resort World Singapore to suffer the same fate, due to human, mechanical or whatever error. It's just tragedy waiting to happen!
15 Sharks Die At Indy Zoo - Animals Overexposed To Ozone
POSTED: 3:41 pm EST January 20, 2009, Indiana News

Several sharks at the Indianapolis Zoo died early Tuesday after too much of a chemical was added to their tank.

Zoo spokeswoman Judy Gagen said 15 bonnethead sharks held in the Oceans building were found dead Tuesday.

Veterinarians at the zoo said that the sharks died as a result of too much ozone, which they described as an oxygen molecule in an electrically charged state that oxidizes, or dissolves, organic waste products in a pond or fish tank.

A system in the sharks' tank was taken offline for maintenance Monday night and was therefore unable to provide an accurate signal to the ozone generator, which continued to add ozone to the water overnight, Gagen said.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Served rubbery shark's fin but waiter said eat it while it's hot

This is so disgusting! Just stop eating shark fin, it's full of mercury and has to be heavily processed before becoming barely edible.
Served rubbery shark's fin but waiter said eat it while it's hot
Posted on 21 Jan, 2009 11:30 , Stomp forum

Says the STOMPer:

I went to Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant at Turf City yesterday to celebrate my nephew's birthday and was extremly disappointed with their shark's fin abalone soup at $28 per bowl.

We ordered 3 bowls and the shark's fin came out to be starchy.

The shark's fin was so rubbery that you could hardly chew and swallow, it was sort of like sea cucumber and it really tasted awful.


jazzmen10 said on 21 Jan, 2009
In the first place why r u still eating shark's fin??!!!

Glad to know some Singaporeans are on the side of conservation too!

Chefs association takes stand at annual dinner

Great move from the Singapore Chefs Associations (SCA) to exclude shark fin from their annual dinner.

Shark's fin not on menu
Chefs association takes stand at annual dinner

January 21, 2009, New Paper

WHEN the Singapore Chefs Association (SCA) holds its annual lo hei dinner this year, one dish will be noticeably missing.

Shark's fin, a near staple at Chinese banquets, will be left out of the menu by the experts at making it.

The dinner, which will be held on 1 Feb at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel , will mark the first time that the association is deliberately leaving out the dish.

Ironically, though, the same chefs admit that they will not be able to stop serving the dish to their customers.

Explaining the move to not eat the dish during their dinner, SCA President Eric Teo, 46, said that chefs were conscious of the process of harvesting shark's fin.

Calling it 'cruel', he added that the luxury dish has led to an 'over-finning' of the fish.

Mr Teo revealed that it was the association's honorary president mentor, Mr Otto Weibel, who mooted going without shark's fin at the event.

The suggestion was accepted unanimously by the organising committee.

'In our personal capacity, we can make a stand,' said Mr Weibel, 62, who is director of kitchens for RC Hotels Limited.

But they admit it will be difficult to stop making the dish for their customers.

'It's harder to stop serving shark's fin in our restaurants as the consumers still demand it,' said Mr Weibel.

Agreeing, Mr Teo said that the dish 'will remain as a delicacy'.

'We've had requests from customers to use ingredients other than shark's fin. On our part, we try to use less of it as well,' he said.

Conservation activists were pleased with the decision to remove shark's fin from the dinner menu.

Mr Grant Pereira, 59, Asian Education Coordinator for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said that the move was a 'a very, very positive step'.

'If the chefs can reduce their consumption, everyone else can as well. I think we can take the lead from them on this,' he said.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sharks, not humans, most at risk in ocean

A few points from a well-balanced article by Reuters.

With all these facts widely reported in the news, why are so few people listening? With every shark that is hunted and finned, the balance of the marine ecosystem slips further into peril. We need to take action now. And this action can be something as simple as saying "No thanks" to a bowl of shark fin.
Sharks, not humans, most at risk in ocean
Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:53am EST, Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Three shark attacks in Australia in two days this week sparked a global media frenzy of "Jaws" proportions, but sharks are more at risk in the ocean than humans with man killing millions of sharks each year.

Sharks are the top of the marine food chain, a powerful predator which has no match in its watery realm, until man enters the ocean.

Commercial fishing and a desire for Asian shark fin soup sees up to 100 million sharks, even protected endangered species of sharks, slaughtered around the world each year, says the Shark Research Institute (Australia).

There are 30 sharks, including the Great White, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's threatened species list.

"Sharks need our help now and we cannot let our fear push them to the brink of extinction," says Ben Birt, from Australia's Nature Conservation Council, which has launched a "Save Our Last Sharks" campaign.

Film Exposes Threats To Survival Of Great Whites

New documentary on great white sharks, watch the Island of the Great White trailers, and the CBS report, which i reckon had better summary footage.
Film Exposes Threats To Survival Of Great Whites
Jan 15, 2009 05:46 AM, CBS8

"I've been filming for 5 years now and never seen aggression either towards divers in cage or myself," Richard said.

"I wanted to present a realistic portrait of these animals, but also wanted to show working relationship between eco-tourism boats, the shark diving boats and the Mexican researchers that are there... why have they chosen Isla Guadalupe," he said.

"We're losing up to 100 million sharks a year, primarily to feed the Asian demand for shark fin soup and other shark products in these Asian countries," he said.

Richard hopes "Island of the Great White Shark" will give people a better appreciation for the fight sharks face every day to survive.

"We are not on their menu, that we don't need to fear these animals. They certainly are top predators and have an important role in marine ecosystems and we need them, but we should not necessarily fear them or fear putting our toe in the water," Richard said.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mini-sub to probe behaviour of basking sharks

Basking sharks are one of the three shark species protected under CITES. They are the second-largest shark alive (after the whale shark) yet are gentle filter-feeders. Only 8,200 of them left!
We need to protect these unique sharks before they disappear!

The ocean is one big watery plane. Exploitive fishing practices in any region can affect populations miles away. Stop eating shark fin!
Mini-sub to probe behaviour of basking sharks
15 January 2009, By LOTTIE RAY, Isle of Man Today

THE Isle of Man is to host a conference on basking sharks this summer following four years of ground-breaking research.

The Island's basking shark population has received worldwide attention since a shark tagged in Manx waters crossed the Atlantic in 2007. It was previously believed basking sharks on this side of the Atlantic were a completely different group to those off the Americas.

Manx Basking Shark Watch (MBSW) plans to join the Shark Alliance, a group of scientists calling for worldwide protection for all shark species.

'Every year tens of millions of different sharks are killed for their fins, so people can eat shark fin soup,' said Jackie.'This is a very cruel practice. The fins are cut off and the shark is thrown back into the sea to die a slow and painful death.'

It is estimated there are now only about 8,200 basking sharks left.

'We are close to losing them,' said Jackie. 'This practice must be stopped and our tagging work lends power to the scientific argument against it.'

Our evidence that these sharks cross the Atlantic has put a whole new light on the urgent need for worldwide conservation measures to be taken.'

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 CNY dinner

This weekend we had the pleasure of having an early Chinese New Year dinner at Lotus Vegetarian Restuarant, taste testing their S$358++ (10 pax) festive set menu with local bloggers Camemberu, Ladyironchef, Sheepishvegetarian, Singapuradailyphoto, Southernoise-gluttony, Superfinefeline and Leafmonkey.

Yes, you, you, you and you. All of us are guilty of being a murderer. And the real cause for their destruction, the demand for shark fins, a Chinese delicacy, always present during weddings and festive occasions. - Ladyironchef

Marketed as a health tonic, yet high in toxic mercury content, and usually bleached during production to give it a more desireable shade, Sharkfin doesn’t belong on anyone’s table this Chinese New Year, nor any wedding dinners for that matter. - Sheepishvegetarian

Photography courtesy of Bianca Polak
Lousy photography courtesy of Sharkman
Photography courtesy of Ladyironchef
As shark fin itself has no real flavour, it can be emulated with vegetarian ingredients such as kelp and green bean. For lovers of "shark fin" broth, vegetarian shark fin soup is a pretty good alternative! You can get it from 24-hour eateries such as Hong Kong Tea House (86 East Coast Road) to high-class places such as Lotus Vegetarian (201 Balestier Road, Quality Hotel).

Thank you all who celebrated Chinese New Year early with us!

Maldives moves to protect whale sharks

Saving creatures in their natural habitat is the only true act of conservation.
Maldives moves to protect whale sharks
The Maldives has taken the first steps towards establishing a protected area for whale sharks.
14/01/09, Dive Magazine

The Maldives has taken the first steps towards establishing a protected area for whale sharks. The government-backed initiative is being supported by biologists, diving professionals and representatives of the local community.

For years, the Maldives has been renowned for its whale shark encounters, which, while not as seasonal as those of the Seychelles, occur throughout the atolls during most of the year. Several locations - notably the exposed outer reef of South Ari Atoll - have emerged as whale-shark hotspots and attract boatloads of snorkellers on a daily basis.

So far, a database of 100 individual sharks has been compiled and is being used to track the movements of these sharks around the atolls. The group is also investigating stories of other whale shark hotspots across the archipelago: it is thought that the sharks journey around the Maldives in order to find seasonal eddies that concentrate their favourite food - zooplankton - into relatively small areas. The long-term plan is to establish protected areas in which snorkelling and boat activity will be controlled, and the sharks will have a refuge from open-ocean fisheries.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Scuba diver helps get shark fin soup off menu

A good example of what one person can do to start change. Hopefully scuba divers in Singapore can do the same and get active for our environment!
Scuba diver helps get shark fin soup off menu
2:00 a.m. January 10, 2009 Ed Zieralski, Union-Tribune
Staff Writer

Some local scuba divers and an executive chef combined this week to eliminate a controversial seafood item from a menu for a Chinese New Year celebration.

Scuba-diving enthusiast Carl Robbins noticed the menu in an advertising flyer from Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino.

Among the offerings was shark fin soup, the controversial Asian delicacy that relies on the fins of sharks, some of which are finned and released in a mutilated state back into the sea. The practice is being blamed for a decrease in shark populations around the world.

Outraged, Robbins sent e-mails to Barona and alerted fellow scuba divers and watermen. Robbins, citing Web sites and documentaries, detailed why it's inhumane to offer such a menu item. It's been estimated that every year tens of millions of sharks die a slow death because of finning. Robbins' e-mail to Dean Thomas, executive chef at Barona, explained his stance.

“The negative impact seen in our world's oceans through the ruthless slaughter of sharks for nothing more than their fins has been well-documented. It is a practice that has been long identified with organized crime not to mention the inhumanity towards the sharks as well as the enormous impact to our oceans and therefore to our world.”

Robbins' e-mail and others drew an immediate response from Thomas, who removed shark fin soup from the Barona Chinese New Year celebration menu.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Shark fins removed from 'front window' of China-based website, but apparently still available to buyers

An investigation into the seemingly good news of Shark fin sales halted on

Commerce will always find a way, as long as the demand for shark fin still stands. The ONLY way to stop the massacre of shark populations worldwide is to STOP EATING SHARK FIN NOW.

Shark fins removed from 'front window' of China-based website, but apparently still available to buyers
11:37 AM, January 9, 2009, Los Angeles Times

As suspected by conservation groups and subtly alluded to Thursday on Outposts, sharks around the world probably are no safer than they were before, on Jan. 1, stopped allowing the open sale of shark fins on its global marketplace website.

That's because some wholesalers, while they can no longer list shark fins on the site, apparently are still selling them on request to interested buyers.

Shark fins, you may recall, are the key ingredient for shark-fin soup. Fins are obtained by fishermen who net and haul sharks aboard, slice off their fins,
and discard the writhing sharks, which sink and slowly die.

It is perhaps the most disgusting form of fishing on the planet -- yet, demand for shark-fin soup remains high in many parts of the world.

Outposts salutes Shark Diver for exposing the loophole in Alibaba's new guidelines.

Shark Diver, during the first week of January, claims to have posed as three different buyers asking for 11,000 pounds of shark fins from 11 sellers. Nine reportedly responded positively, and the other two did not respond. Shark Diver, a commercial shark-diving company, sourced 88,000 pounds of shark fins.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Shark fin sales halted on

Moore good news for the new year and a great follow up to Yahoo! owns 40% of, the largest marketplace for illegally harvested shark fins.

Shark fin sales halted on website
10:11 AM, January 8, 2009, LA Times

For years, Alibaba endorsed the wholesale slaughter of sharks and the brutal practice of finning live sharks at sea, by offering shark fins, which are used to make shark fin soup, to be listed for sale on its site.

Dozens of companies from around the world sold shark fins, a sad testament to the popularity of a dish that is especially regarded throughout Asia. Anyone could purchase the product in bulk.

Alibaba ceased allowing the sale of shark fins on Jan. 1. This was regarded by many as a major victory for shark conservation because most species of sharks are considered to be in jeopardy.

However, optimism remains guarded because the demand for shark fins remains high, so the fishing effort, presumably, has not diminished.

Here's to this small step for our sharks and more such developments in conservation this year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Human predators driving sharks to the brink of extinction

Human predators driving sharks to the brink of extinction
Wednesday Jan 07, 2009, Kirstie Knowles, New Zealand Herald

Sharks are monsters of the ocean - creatures of myth and movie. Or so they say. In reality, they are the victims of the horror stories, not the perpetrators, as shark populations worldwide decline.

Only one threatened species - the great white shark - is protected in New Zealand. It is ironic that this species, which was portrayed in the Jaws films as a relentless human killer, is now at risk of extinction largely at the hands of humans.

Blue sharks are recognised internationally as a threatened species by the IUCN and are estimated by Australia's national science agency to have declined by 40 per cent in the Tasman Sea over the past decade. Ministry figures also show that from 2002-2007 more than 80 per cent of blue sharks caught in New Zealand had just their fins landed, with their carcasses dumped at sea.

We know that sharks are long-lived, slow-breeding fish that are highly vulnerable to over-fishing. If we allow finning to continue, we are adding to the serious decline in shark populations caused by this wasteful and abhorrent practice.

High-profile chefs and food writers Peta Mathias, Richard Till, Annabel Langbein, Peter Calder and Julie Le Clerc support a campaign to help stop shark finning. The New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council also backs the pledge, and a Colmar-Brunton poll last year found that 83 per cent of New Zealanders support a ban on shark finning.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Malaysian fishermen face fine over (whale) shark catch

An update on Report: Injured whale shark dies on Malaysia shore.

Good on the Malaysian Fisheries Department! I wonder how much the fine will be...?
Malaysian fishermen face fine over shark catch
Associated Press - January 4, 2009 4:53 AM ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Four Malaysian fishermen are facing fines after reportedly netting and killing a rare 23-foot-long, two-ton whale shark by accident.

The giant fish was towed shore after it got entangled in the nets. 1 of the fishermen tells the New Straits Times newspaper that the shark was still alive when it reached shore but it died shortly after from its propeller wounds.

A Fisheries Department official told the Sunday Star that the four men should have immediately released the shark since it was an endangered and protected species. He says the four have been questioned and their statements have been forwarded to the department's legal unit for further action.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

You have the power

A powerful article that enforces the need for individuals to take a personal stand against the problems in our environment and be responsible for our world!

When I have children I want them to still have sharks to admire. I think I can pass on a bowl of sticky soup that will come out my backside anyway!

You Have the Power
Korea Times, Opinion, 01-04-2009, By Rick Ruffin

It seems people are always waiting for scientists, experts, policymakers and government to find the answers. However, the solutions to all our problems can be found at the personal level. Change begins with the individual.

Each year, around the globe, millions of sharks are killed. Their fins and tails are hacked off and they're dumped back into the sea to sink and die. The fins are dried and shipped to Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia.

These shark fins provide the gooey matrix from which highly popular shark fin soup is made. This dish is popular in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and wherever rich Chinese people gather. It is especially popular at Chinese weddings.

Because the soup is so popular, the shark population around Cocos Island ― a lush tropical Eden in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America ― is rapidly being depleted. If we don't stop eating shark's fin soup, there will be no sharks left.

So let's take this opportunity to say goodbye to the sharks, the giant bluefin tuna, the African rhino endangered by the ivory trade, and thousands of other species of life as well, because unless we start changing our consumption habits radically, they will all disappear.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Second rare shark dies in aquarium mystery

Just realised I never posted the article about the whale shark deaths at the Georgia Aquarium!

The comments are particularly insightful for this article. If the general public understands that large pelagic marine animals are not meant for captivity, there is no reason why aquariums and such facilities do not. The truth is, these facilities ignore this blatantly obvious fact because they are only concerned with profit.

They can white-wash what they are doing with the word "conservation" as much as they like but in the end the sheer action of keeping these animals in captivity proves that they only care about making money!

Second Rare Shark Dies In Aquarium Mystery
Two Rare Whale Sharks Die In Same Atlanta Facility Months Apart
ATLANTA, June 14, 2007 by David S Morgan, CBS News

(CBS/AP) Another whale shark (Norton) died Wednesday at the Georgia Aquarium, the second this year at the only facility outside Asia to display the huge, rare fish.

In January, Ralph, a whale shark who was one of the aquarium's first stars when it opened in 2005, died from peritonitis, an infection in his abdomen.

Aquarium officials said Wednesday that Norton had stopped eating in recent months and swam erratically. Early Wednesday, he settled to the bottom of the aquarium's centerpiece Ocean Voyager tank.

Norton was euthanized after his health didn't improve. His death will be investigated for any possible link to Ralph's death, aquarium officials said.

Ralph had stomach problems that inflamed a membrane in his abdomen, but the aquarium has also said a chemical used in cleaning the sharks' tank may have contributed to Ralph's loss of appetite. The tank-cleaning routine since has been changed.

This Atlanta Journal-Constitution article provides more information about Ralph's death, stating:
The aquarium had four whale sharks until January, when a male, Ralph, died. A necropsy showed the fish died of peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen. He also had stomach perforations, possibly caused by force-feeding through a PVC pipe.

Adding to the controversy is the death of Gaspar, a Beluga whale that also died at the aquarium in January. Gaspar, who was rescued from a Mexican amusement park (and was 300 pounds underweight at the time), died of a bone infection.

The deaths of these sharks has the critics circling, reports Strassmann. Much of the criticism is philosophical — whether creatures so enormous, and whale sharks can grow to 40 feet — can ever be kept healthy in captivity.

"There’s sadness over the death of a magnificent animal," Lori Marino, Behavioral Biologist from Emory University told CBS. "And then anger because that animal should not have been there in the first place."

Transformative travel: Readers' tales of trips that changed their lives

Divers have a truly important role to play as advocates of marine conservation. Especially those who have dived with sharks and experienced being with these amazing animals in close range, send me your stories!
Transformative travel: Readers' tales of trips that changed their lives
3 January 2009, USA Today


I learned scuba diving at the request of my daughter Philipa when I was 60 years old and fell in love with it. As a thank you, I invited her on a cage dive to see great white sharks at the Pacific island of Guadalupe, Mexico, with Standing in the cage, I saw my first shark swimming by, so close that I could almost touch him. I was 64 years then and I never imagined how this trip would give my life a totally different direction.

When I sold my ranch in upstate New York a couple years later, I started to book dive trips where sharks were included. My first shark dive without a cage was in the Bahamas. Jumping into the ocean, knowing that there were at least a dozen Caribbean reef sharks down there, was a bit weird. But I jumped in anyway.

The sharks were inquisitive but never aggressive. I fell in love with those beautiful, amazing and highly developed animals. I started to read every book I could find and started my own website, I am now an avid shark protector and am now on the Board of Trustees of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, N.J. I give presentations about sharks in schools and colleges to tell as many young people about the importance of sharks in our oceans.

After 120 shark dives, I am still in love with sharks and take every opportunity I get to dive with them.

— Jupp Kerckerinck zur Borg, Millbrook, N.Y.

Report: Injured whale shark dies on Malaysia shore

News from Malaysia. I'm interested in seeing what their fishery officials have to say about this, if they will say anything at all.
Report: Injured whale shark dies on Malaysia shore
January 3, 2009, International Herald Tribune

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A rare 23-foot-long (7-meter-long) whale shark got entangled in a fishing net off Malaysia's northwest coast and was towed to shore but died due to injuries, local media reported Saturday.

Fisherman Key Chai Yang told the New Straits Times newspaper that it took two hours to tow the two-ton shark, known as a Rhincodon Typus, to land after it got entangled in his fishing net early Friday.

He said the shark was still alive when it reached shore in northern Penang state in Malaysia's northwest, but it died shortly after from the multiple cuts it suffered from the propeller blades under his boat.

Why would you tow it to shore? Just cut it loose! Of course it would die from such senseless and cruel treatment!

I'm surprised that the article didn't mention the Endangered status of the whale shark. Such a shame that people are treating this incredible gentle giant with such ignorance.

Which also raises the question... how is Resort World Sentosa planning to "import" their whale shark, which most definitely will have to be transported from another country?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Whale sharks net a saviour

Happy New Year! I hope everybody had a good break over Christmas. I've been busy with preparations for 2009 and our campaign events will be revealed very shortly.

Meanwhile, here's a nice snippet from India again to start the new year on a happy and hopeful note. Remember, we all can make a difference, no matter how small!

Our unsung heroes
1 Jan 2009, 1408 hrs IST, The Times of India

Once indiscriminately slaughtered by fishermen in the coastal areas of Saurashtra in Gujarat, the endangered whale shark has found an unlikely saviour in Dinesh Goswami. Goswami, who learnt about the fate of whale sharks in a documentary by environmentalist Mike Pandey, decided to make it his mission to save them.

Every time a whale shark gets caught in a fishing net, he rushes to the rescue. Even if it means giving up his daily wage of Rs 160 at a private company in Sutrapada taluka of Junagadh district.

Most times, it's not an easy mission. Rough weather and a choppy sea make it a risky affair. But a saved whale shark is worth all the trouble, says Goswami, who has rescued as many as 50 so far.

Describing his most dangerous rescue so far, Goswami recounts, "State officials called me after reports that a shark was trapped in a net. After we set off, the sea got very rough and every minute, we thought the boat would overturn. Thankfully, we managed to save the whale shark and return safely." Goswami now runs Paryawaran Mitra, an NGO for the protection of sea animals.