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Killed for their fins

Sharks are beautiful animals that have roamed our oceans since before the time of dinosaurs. But every year, millions of sharks fall victim to the horrific practice of finning. The fins of the shark are cut off and the rest of the shark is discarded in the sea to die.

Together, we can stop this.

for a healthy ocean

Sharks are top-level predators that help maintain a balance in the marine food web. Many sharks prey on wounded or sick animals, keeping the populations of various species healthy. Others scavenge or filter-feed, keeping the ocean healthy.

or caught by accident

In most commercial fisheries, the meat of a shark has little value. The fins, however, are highly valued and are used for shark fin soup and medicinal purposes. Many sharks also are caught accidentally in nets, fishing lines, bottom trawlers and gillnets.

in peril

Sharks mature late in life. Many do not start reproducing until they are 10 years or older, and many species give birth to only a few young. They can’t keep up with finning and overfishing. We may lose them – and many more species we rely on for food.

Help us Save Sharks

Help us save these beautiful ocean predators. Donate here, call 253-404-3657 or mail a donation to:

The Zoo Society
5400 North Pearl Street
Tacoma, WA 98407

Is this your idea of a shark?

Fiction -
terrifying monster

Sharks are often portrayed as animals to be feared. In reality, our chances of being attacked by a shark are small compared to other dangers. For every fatal shark attack, up to 25 million sharks are killed by humans.

Reality -
looking for seals

Meanwhile, human fatalities from sharks average less than one person per year in the U.S. and are usually due to mistaken identity. From below, swimmers and surfers look like seals, the primary diet of some sharks.

Conservation Updates

Together, we can make change.

When humans work together, we can make change for good. Here’s the latest exciting progress.

Shark Finning Prohibition Act passes.
This act bans shark finning on all US-flagged fishing vessels in international waters.
Shark Conservation Act passes.
This act closes loopholes requiring that all sharks must be brought to port with their fins attached.
May 2015
Sharks and rays are listed as a species in the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s “Saving Animals From Extinction” (SAFE) campaign.
This focuses the collective expertise of accredited zoos and aquariums, including Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, to identify the threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and engage the public in saving sharks and rays.
June 2015
Texas becomes the 10th US State to ban the sale of shark fin products.
It joins Washington, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and Massachusetts.
November 2015
Washington State passes Initiative 1401 banning the sale of 10 endangered animal products including sea turtles, sharks, and rays. Metro Parks Tacoma endorsed this measure
Staff members at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium collaborated with colleagues at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium to educate the public about the perils facing these endangered species.
April 2016
Two PDZA dive staff members travel to the Socorro Islands Biosphere Preserve off the coast of Mexico to help non-profit Fins Attached in a crucial project to track sharks’ movements over time. The Zoo Society’s Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund paid for their travel expenses and donated acoustic tracking receivers.
Enough data was gathered for the Mexican legislature to expand the protected area around these islands to 57,000 square miles. Read more in the blog.
August 2016
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Hawaiian Islands becomes the largest ecologically protected area on the planet.
Measuring 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers), it's more than twice the size of Texas and is home to more than 7,000 marine species.
March 2018
Governor Inslee and the Washington State Legislature have approved $300,000 to fund the Washington Animal Trafficking Act for 2018-2019.
This Act bans the trafficking of products from ten groups of endangered animals including sharks. The funding will allow officers to inspect more cargo, expand the K-9 detection program, develop lab testing of evidence, and apprehend traffickers.
April 2019
The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act introduced to Congress. It would require a nation seeking to export shark, ray, and skate products to the U.S. to receive certification from NOAA that it has management and conservation policies in place comparable to those in the U.S.
This bill aims to level the playing field for U.S. fisheries and encourage other countries to support sustainable trade in sharks, skates and rays.
November 2019
Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act approved by the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote.
If passed, the bill would ban the selling, buying, or possession of shark fins (and shark fin products) across the U.S. It is awaiting Senate approval before becoming law.
New Jersey and Florida pass bans on the shark fin trade.
There are now 14 US states with shark fin bans.

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Meet our sharks!

Don’t miss our scalloped hammerheads in the new Pacific Seas Aquarium!