The Jaws of Life

Since we took up the Ocean theme, my heart, my mind, and probably my soul too, has fallen deeply in love once again with the Ocean. I may have had my quarrels with it (getting nearly drowned on salty water twice, stepped on a sea urchin by accident, attacked by a jellyfish unawares, frightened silly by reports of sea snakes, etc.) but I can’t help not be overwhelmed by its vastness and mystic grandeur.

As I learn more and more about the Ocean in order to teach about it to the children, I have grown a deep love and respect for sea creatures, particularly sharks and whales. Sharks are the most misunderstood of all sea creatures, I believe. I now, and very gradually, get to distinguish different types of sharks and what makes them distinct. The same is true with whales.

Coincidentally the Discovery and National Geographic channels had been showing episodes of ocean wildlife. I’ve learned a lot from these shows and thanks to these I am able to really explain to my eager kids why these sea creatures act the way do and all that stuff.

What has really caught my attention was a documentary on thresher sharks (which is now my favorite shark of all).  They are mostly harmless and feed only on fish. They are known for their very long, undulating tail fins, and they can be found in the ‘cleaning stations’ (where cleaner wrasses are found) of Malapascua, Cebu, Philippines.

After watching more episodes on these two channels nearly everyday, I found myself writhing within with fury as I watch the so-called Japanese Research Whaling ship being launched to the oceans of the Arctic to go whale-hunting. Even though I understand that their culture is what compelled them to do this, still, how many whales are there left in the planet in the past century for them to be cruelly murdering whales, using ‘Science’ as a cover-up? I was greatly disappointed with Japan, which I thought of to be one of the most nature-loving countries, to be one so apt to go against it. Can you believe that in the past 12 years they have killed nearly 17,000 whales for some stupid and not-so credible ‘research’? Of the thousand reports they submitted, only three came up ‘credible’. To learn more about whales there is absolutely no need to kill them! It is clearly a ploy for commercial whaling that this ‘research’ ship was sent out there for.

Another, I am not at all happy with the Taiwanese demand for shark fins for their soup. I wonder if they have any idea how and how much sharks are killed every year to extinction. From what I’ve seen in the documentary, while the shark is still alive, its dorsal, pectoral and tail fins are cut off, it’s body slit and thrown back in the water to die. Their fins are then sold in the black market. Apparently, shark fin hunting is already illegal. Still, that’s how cruel their deaths are in human hands. Even baby sharks are fair game!

It’s really very silly. It’s not as if these two nations can’t live without whales and sharks in their diet. Besides, they are very creative people. They are known for their culinary  talents. Surely they can eat something else without these endangered species in their menu.

As the television presenter said, if there is no demand for shark fins, then there will be no market for it. No market, no shark finning. The killings will stop. The same goes for whales.

It is my birthday wish that whaling and shark-hunting be put to an end. For good.

3 Responses to “The Jaws of Life

  • wow!! veej.. count me in on this one.. not all sharks are dangerous and at times, only when they’re hungry.. whales are friendly creatures as well..

    i still go for dolphins.. =)

  • ngaks……..nakakaiyak na man ng post na etetch!! ='( ive always wanted to become a marine biologist because of those whales, dolphins, sharks, (seaweeds) nyehehehe…….tapos ganyan sila!?! hhmm! nasaan na ang animal rights!? pero diba may worldwide law na about the shark/whale killing? bat ganyan parin? oh well… and as for the research….. atik man na ui………. for 17000 whales wala gihapoy pulos ang research?? ano yan? parang ung sa movie na “The Legend” ni Will Smith?? tsk tsk tsk……………. very bad…. very bad.. kakaiyak..

    luoy ang shark ba, tanggal ug fins then itapon sa dagat… i hope magsurvive sila…….. murag pungkol ba! tsktsk..

  • Thank you Fly and Kai for sharing my sentiments. I am truly pained by the news/documentary of ‘shark finning’ (which I learned is the official term).

    Yes, Kai, meron tagalang laws against shark finning sa US, Mexico and around US’s vicinity, but since the ocean is such a huge expanse, hindi kayang i-monitor ng mga concerned conservationists ang pag-protect sa mga sharks.

    Ito talagang nakaka-galit. Ang mga salbaheng Taiwanese illegally na pumapasok sa Puerto Rican waters para mag shark finning kasi bukod sa wala naman silang laws against it, wala na rin silang mga sharks na nabibingwit sa mga waters nila. And then they smuggle the shark fins to Taiwan via Puerto Rican contacts. Napaka-absurd, di ba?

    Alam naman ng mga fishermen (Taiwanese and Puerto Ricans alike) na paunti nang paunti na ang mga isda at sharks pero hindi pa rin nila tinitigilan ang paghu-hunting sa mga ito. Oo, nakokonsensya daw sila sa ginagawa nila, but puh-lease! Why don’t they just stop then? Siyempre, malaki ang kita sa shark finning eh, pumapatak ng $600~$1,000 ang isang fin.

    At alam mo ba, ang top listed endangered species na Great White Sharks ay mismong hina-hunting pa ng mga Itsik. May goodness! Top listed endangered species! The Taiwanese have broken every possible law against wildlife crime.

    Eto pa, ang shark fin soup masarap lang dahil sa mga sahog sa soup. Walang kinalaman dito ang shark fin. Hindi naman kasi siya masarap eh. Wala nga raw lasa ito. It just provides texture to the soup kaya sobrang absurb ang demand sa shark fins ng mga pakitang-gilas na mga intsik. Ito kasi ang hinahanda sa mga weddings and other functions. I guess status symbol ang pag-serve nito. Absurd, absurd, absurd!

    Shark fin soup should really be taken out of the menu. That way, there will be no market for it, and if there is no market, then no finning.

    Infuriating, no?

    Me too. The Marine Biologist in me is kicking in.

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