The Paper Sharks Project
Paper Sharks is a project that aims to raise support and awareness for shark conservation. In the same way that folding a thousand origami cranes has become a symbolic expression of hope and perseverance, Paper Sharks is a project that aims to inspire hope and support for sharks.
You are invited to use the origami patterns available in the Downloads section to fold your own paper shark, and upload a photo to the Collection page. As more paper sharks are added to the collection, it is hoped that it will become an inspiring visual representation of the many shark supporters around the world, and may be used to influence local governments, organizations and individuals to join in furthering cause of shark conservation.
In the spirit of the traditional story of 1,000 paper cranes, determined individuals are also invited to participate in the challenge of folding 1,000 paper sharks … perhaps our wish to save the sharks will come true ♥
Save the Sharks
It is estimated that up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins alone – all to satisfy the inexplicable demand for shark fin soup. As sharks are typically slow to reproduce (taking many years to reach maturity, and only producing a few pups a year), this level of trade is unsustainable. The 2012 IUCN Red List currently lists a third of all shark species as threatened with extinction.
Regardless of whether one considers the practice of shark finning cruel & wasteful (the fins of sharks are removed and the rest of the animal thrown back into the ocean to die a slow death), or whether due to media sensationalism one thinks of sharks as frightening, vicious animals, the fact remains that by regulating the abundance and diversity of the species they prey on, sharks play a key role in the health of our ocean ecosystem. Since more sharks are being killed each year than can reproduce, the issue of sustainability alone is enough to warrant the need for change.
Although the main importers of shark fin are Hong Kong & China, the countries with the highest shark catches include Indonesia, India, Spain, Argentina, Taiwan, United States and Mexico. This is a global problem and shark fin soup is not an issue of culture or tradition. We as a human race do nothing to honor those who came before us by persisting in a course of action that is detrimental to the the world we live in. We ought to know the difference between traditions deserving of respect, and those that are nothing more than foolish, habitual practices.
It is a given that in the course of living we consume a portion the earth’s resources, but we should always seek to do so responsibly, by choosing sustainable food sources, and protecting the natural resources we may have damaged or depleted. The categorical slaughter of sharks brought on by the shark fin trade cannot be sustained with the slow reproductive rates typical of sharks. In addition, the worldwide demand for other shark products, such as shark meat and cartilage* as well as shark oil (used in cosmetics, etc), only adds to the excessive strain on shark populations. When we combine these factors with the progressive deterioration of ocean habitat from pollution, etc, it is no wonder why sharks are in trouble. Please do what you can to help by supporting shark conservation efforts and saying “no” to shark fin.
*Rather than being beneficial to one’s health, there is evidence to indicate that shark meat may contain potentially dangerous levels of mercury and other toxins (which tend to accumulate in increasingly higher concentrations in the tissues of predatory animals higher up on the food chain). The medical benefits of shark cartilage supplements are also questionable at best. Numerous clinical trials testing shark cartilage as a cancer treatment have shown it to be wholly ineffective, and the concept itself that “sharks don’t get cancer” is a complete myth.