Feds Bust Organized Crime Ring Trading in Shark Fins and Drugs

Feds Bust Organized Crime Ring Trading in Shark Fins and Drugs

The New York Times reported late last week that federal prosecutors are pressing charges against a ring of a dozen people and two businesses on opposite coasts for running a multimillion-dollar organization involved in international money laundering, drug trafficking, and illegal wildlife trade in shark fins.

Why This Matters:  As the World Wildlife Fund reports, around 100 million sharks may be killed annually for their fins and many are sold on the black market. Illegal wildlife trafficking is growing because international criminal networks are able to exploit weaknesses and gaps in international law enforcement.

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Hero of the Week: Hunter Filz

Hero of the Week: Hunter Filz

Third-grader Hunter Filz may only be eight but he already understands the importance of sharks to ecosystems. For his birthday this year he has been raising money for the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to protect the animals he cares so deeply about. Hunter developed his passion for sharks as a baby and hopes to become a […]

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New Study Finds Reef Shark Populations Declining More Globally Than Previously Known

New Study Finds Reef Shark Populations Declining More Globally Than Previously Known

Last month, a new study published in the journal Nature showed that shark populations are decreasing in many regions throughout the world at much greater rates than previously thought. As CBS Los Angeles reported, this is the “most comprehensive study done on the world’s shark population.” The study found that 20% of the areas they studied — across 58 countries — had no sharks at all.

Why This Matters: As Philip Matich, a marine biologist at Texas A&M-Galveston says, “Sharks have important roles in marine ecosystems, but disturbance can alter this role.” This, in turn, can impact the ecosystem, since as one of the top predators in the water sharks regulate prey populations. But, as the study notes, not all hope is lost.

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$1M In Illegal Shark Fins Seized in Miami

$1M In Illegal Shark Fins Seized in Miami

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in January seized 1,400 pounds of shark fins worth nearly $1M that were hidden in 18 boxes in Miami Airport.  Federal officials believe the shipment originated in South America and was likely headed to Asia, where shark fins are in great demand for use in soup and traditional medicine, but they are still investigating.

Why This Matters:  Shark finning is banned in the U.S., but it is not illegal to buy and sell their fins here or even to sell the soup in restaurants in some states (it is banned in others).

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Acidifying Oceans Could Dissolve Shark Scales

Acidifying Oceans Could Dissolve Shark Scales

South African researchers published a new study showing that increasing concentrations of CO2 in the ocean are damaging shark scales, known as denticles.

Why This Matters: These scales protect sharks and allow them their unique ability to move through the water.

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One Shark Thing: 5 Tips for Surviving a Shark Attack

One Shark Thing: 5 Tips for Surviving a Shark Attack

As Discovery Channel’s Shark Week draws to a close we wanted to share these 5 expert tips for surviving a shark attack should you encounter a shark during your summer vacation (or ever). While shark attacks are extremely rare, this week we’ve written about how climate change and even conservation efforts are putting humans into […]

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