Hug A Shark Day 2.0

“The thought of hugging a predator is enough to give anyone the chills but the volunteers in shark costumes at The Square in Publika recently were spreading warmth by giving out hugs.”

The “I’m Finished With Fins” event was designed to encourage the public to say “no” to shark’s fin soup and save the declining shark population. According to Evainezzel Khoo, a Shark Savers volunteer at the event, up to 73 million sharks are killed yearly just for their fins. The demand for shark’s fin soup has been the No. 1 cause for the 99% decrease in the shark population over the last 50 years.

Aquaria KLCC, who had set up a booth at the event to educate the public on shark facts, stresses that shark meat — fins included — contains mercury, a toxic element that cannot be dispelled by the body so, one is better off not consuming shark’s fin soup.

IM4U volunteer Faruq Iskandar, who was there to chaperone the group of shark-costumed huggers, said there was also a moral responsibility for the human race to reexamine the process of fin harvesting in the industry. “Five years ago, at a dive site in Anilao, Philippines, we found a shark carcass. The fish had died a slow agonising death after fishermen had hacked its fins off and threw its body overboard,” said Faruq.

Coming on board to voice their protests as well were éPure, a beauty mask company and Enlinea, who runs the wedding.com.my and motherhood.com.my web portals. According to ePure general manager Arthur Liew, the company has taken a stand by refusing to serve shark’s fin soup at all its internal events and claims from all staff members for shark’s fin soup will not be entertained. Liew said the company had also pledged to channel 100% of the sales made during the event to help with fundraising. Enlinea head of sales and marketing Stacey Lee said she will be doing her part to “put pressure” on its websites’ vendors to refrain from promoting shark’s fin in their banquet menus and to spread the “Finished With Fins” message to wedding couples. “As it is, many five star hotels in the city have stopped featuring shark’s fin in their menu,” said Lee.

Lending support in the form of a live art installation were Creative Volts (CV) and Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA) who had taken a month to complete paper sculptures of a mother and her baby shark. Placed on top of white boxes, the students gave a live exhibition as they painted in the scenery of mountains and nature.

Said co-founder from CV, KG Tey and MIA graphic department lecturer Ani Nazihah Abu Bakar, the work is a depiction of the mother and her baby shark swimming in the wild. “It is to symbolise their right to survival.” Explaining the colour themes for the paper sculptures, Ani points out that the grey and white tones for the mother shark is a representation of the species’ current endangered situation. The lively shades in the baby shark shows a better tomorrow. She is hopeful thanks to the ongoing awareness programmes and events to preserve the ocean’s apex predator.