project news

De-Finned Shark Found in Chole Bay

News item submitted by Ben Margerison
News item dated 21 Jan 2011


This week, the Frontier team on Mafia Island, Tanzania had some rather sad news to report. After undertaking a beach clean on Juani Island, just across Chole Bay from the camp at Utende, the team found a dead Bull Shark that had been de-finned. This was both a distressing and surprising discovery as the shark was found within the boundary of the Mafia Island Marine Park, which is a well run and successful protected area, and one in which fishing practices such as shark finning are rarely seen.

The devastation of shark populations caused by the removal of the pectoral and dorsal fins is a worldwide problem and one largely due to the huge demand for shark fin soup, which is seen as a luxury item in Chinese culture. The burgeoning middle class in China has greatly exacerbated demand in recent years, and it is estimated that worldwide around 70 million sharks are killed each year for their fins. The practice is incredibly wasteful, as after the sharks have been finned, they are thrown back into the water to suffer a slow and painful death. It is an extremely cruel and unsustainable industry and it is not a good sign that a defined shark has been found so close to camp on Mafia Island.

On a more positive note, this week the team also witnessed the hatching of hundreds of Green Turtles, also on Juani beach. They saw them make their first steps along the beach and wriggle off into the ocean. They also spotted a species of sea horse in a seagrass bed, the first time one has been seen in Chole Bay by a Frontier team for a long time.  

Find out more about the Frontier Tanzania Marine Conservation and Diving Project