Would you eat tiger soup? Of course not. It's a species facing extinction. But if you eat shark fin soup, you could hasten the demise of animals facing a similar plight, because nearly a third of all shark species are in peril.
I am a shark attack survivor, but I appreciate the importance of these predators for the health of the ocean. I have dedicated my life to helping them. Recently, I teamed with some fellow shark attack survivors, my colleagues at the Pew Environment Group, and researchers from Stony Brook University in New York to collect and genetically test samples of shark fin soup across the United States.
We gathered 51 samples from restaurants in 14 cities and found one made from the fin of a scalloped hammerhead, which is endangered. We discovered samples containing fin of vulnerable and near-threatened species, including bull, smooth hammerhead, school, spiny dogfish and copper sharks. And there were even a few bowls in which the DNA testing revealed no shark at all.
This is the first time shark fin soup has been tested in a large nationwide sampling. The results demonstrate some crucial points.