Nearly 2,000 sharks have been killed by poachers in a marine sanctuary near the coast of Colombia. Poachers are trying to capitalize on the high demand for shark fin soup in China.
A team of divers reported the killings to Colombian authorities after seeing multiple boats flying the Costa Rican flag inside the sanctuary. Divers spotted large quantities of dead Hammerhead and Silky sharks floating near the oceans surface with no fins.
“They saw a large number of fishing trawlers entering the zone illegally. When the divers dove, they started finding a large number of animals without their fins. They didn’t see any alive.” says Sandra Bessudo, the top environmental adviser to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
The Malpelo sanctuary spreads more than 3,000 square miles and protecting a lot of sea life, with sharks being the most high profile creatures. Tourists that travel to Columbia and visit Malpelo also see large schools of Hammerheads and the very rare short-nosed ragged-toothed sharks.
An estimated 73 million sharks are killed worldwide every year to supply fins for shark fin soup, a Chinese culture cousine. The fins are usually cut off while the sharks are still alive.
The sale of shark fins is illegal in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. California passed a similar ban this year that will take effect in 2013.