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The residents of Hong Kong, like many in Asia, have a thing for shark fin soup. There's been efforts to educate and regulate... But despite it all, the appetite for it is still going strong, which leads to tens of millions of sharks getting mutilated and thrown back in the water to slowly die, every single year.

The photos in this slideshow were taken on the rooftops of buildings in Hong Kong (a big hub in the shark finning industry), and they show thousands and thousands of mutilated shark fins. Remember: Each one represents a dead shark that was killed just for this little piece of cartilage. I find those photos extremely sad, and if you go all the way to the last slide (you can navigate with the arrows on the top right of the images), there's a video showing the same location. Truly sickening.

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This is only one shark-fin drying spot, but there are certainly countless like it all over Asia. The rate at which sharks are being mutilated and killed will lead to extinction if it isn't stopped.
These photos were taken by photojournalist Alex Hofford. He says that roofs are being used to keep the shark fins out of public view, and that this specific one had been unknown to the public until now. He wrote:

"The front line in the war against the shark fin trade has shifted from the sidewalks to the roof tops. The theory goes that after being exposed at street level, they have now sought to move their activities out of the public eye to avoid further backlash."

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Here you can better see the scale of the operation.
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A close-up on the fins. Again, don't see those as fins, but as whole sharks that have been killed.
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Another angle showing the multi-level roofs full of fins. After a few days spent drying, these are replaced by another batch. We can't be sure how many batches go up on this roof per year, but it probably adds up to hundreds of thousands of sharks, if not in the millions.
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A view showing the surrounding buildings and the ocean.
According to Shark Savers, "Life within the oceans, covering 2/3rds of our planet, has enjoyed a relationship with sharks for about 450 million years. Our growing demand for shark fin soup has increased the slaughter of sharks to such a great extent that many shark species are already nearing extinction. They may be all gone within only 10 or 20 years." (emphasis mine).

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Why are sharks being finned? Because shark fin soup is popular in certain asian countries, and the market value of the fins ($300/lbs in 2009) is much higher than the market value of the rest of the sharks, so it's more economical to simply bring back the fins to ground.


I hope that after seeing this, if you ever see shark fin soup on the menu, you'll pass.