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New Photo Illustrates Tragedy of Shark 'Finning'

(Image credit: WCS.)

A just-released photo from a conservation group shows a "finned" shark that was caught recently in Delaware Bay. The photo reveals the aftereffects of the grisly procedure whereby people slice the fins from live sharks and dump the mutilated animals back into the water to die.

The fins are used in a popular yet expensive Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup, a dish typically served for special occasions.

A new law, signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday (Jan. 4), bans the practice in United States' waters , with the exception of one fishery in North Carolina an exemption demanded by North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican.

The shark was caught by the Wildlife Conservation Society while conducting a study in Delaware Bay, an area sandwiched between Delaware and New Jersey where the Delaware River flows into the Atlantic.

The female sand tiger shark's dorsal and pectoral fins were removed, and most of its tail fin had been chopped off.

"This disturbing find is a reminder about the ongoing threats to vulnerable shark populations and the need for expanded education to ensure compliance with U.S. fishing laws," said Jon Dohlin, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium.

There is no way to tell when the shark in this photo was finned, or how long it would live. Finning is a major threat to shark populations around the world. Earlier research supported by the WCS estimated that as many as 73 million sharks are finned annually for the shark fin soup trade.

Federal regulations have made it illegal to fish for this particular shark species commercially and recreationally in Atlantic waters of the United States since 1997.

Live Science Staff
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