Sharks might be hot on Twitter this week due to Discovery Channel’s beloved Shark Week, but they’re also making headlines for another reason: No, not shark attacks. Shark fin soup. Despite what “JAWS” might have taught you, we’re more of a threat to sharks than they are to us. And a study released last week shows the United States isn’t innocent in the overfishing of the animals — researchers found the DNA of eight shark species, including an endangered one, in shark fin soup across the country.
In China, shark fin soup is a delicacy and is served for special occasions such as weddings. It has almost zero flavor but is valued for its chewy texture. Animal activists want the specialty food banned because of a cruel practice known as “live finning,” or “shark finning,” in which fishermen chop off a shark’s fin and throw the shark back in the water, bloody and injured, and unable to properly swim or hunt.
Additionally, many types of sharks are either endangered or at risk of becoming endangered due to overfishing and bycatch, the term used for animals accidentally caught by humans attempting to catch other species. The sale and possession of shark fins is illegal in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and California.
The study — conducted by Stony Brook University’s Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and supported by the Pew Environment Group — tested shark fin soup in 14 U.S. cities and found eight different types of at-risk species, including the scalloped hammerhead, which is labeled “globally endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“This is further proof that shark fin soup here in the United States — not just in Asia — is contributing to the global decline of sharks,” said Liz Karan, who is the manager of global shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group.
The cities involved in the study comprised of Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Houston; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; New York; Orlando, Fla.; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. The soup study will be featured on the Discovery Channel’s show “Shark Fight” at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15.
Check out the following slideshow to learn about the at-risk sharks that researchers discovered in shark fin soup across the United States: