Slow Death: Today, an estimated 73 million sharks (a conservative number by some accounts) are killed by humans each year, many of these in East Asia, where shark-fin soup is a delicacy popular among the region's booming middle classes. But the hunt is a worldwide phenomenon: According to a report published in January by the wildlife monitoring group Traffic and the Pew Environment Group, the top shark-fishing states include Indonesia, India, Spain, Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico, Pakistan, and the United States. Thirty percent of shark species are threatened or near threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species failed last year to add five new shark species to the three already banned from international trade.
In this photo from March 1999, Indian bystanders gather around a 31-foot-long whale shark, a threatened species, brought ashore after getting entangled in fishing nets off the shore of a village near Mumbai.