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Genetic Analyses Show Endangered Species in Shark Fin Soup

 

Chinese cuisine-Shark fin soup (photo from Wikimedia Commons)


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Genetic Analyses Show Endangered Species in Shark Fin Soup

Each year, fishermen catch millions of sharks, cut off their fins, and dump the bodies into the ocean to die. The fins are used to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy sold in many countries. Recently, a team of scientists and environmental groups collected soup from restaurants across the United States and analyzed the soups' genetic make-up. They found endangered species on the menu.

More than 73 million sharks are killed every year, mostly for their fins, to make shark fin soup, industry experts and conservationists say. Shark fin soup is a common offering in many Asian restaurants around the world.

The Field Museum in Chicago and the Pew Environment Group looked at 51 soup samples in 14 U.S. cities. DNA __________ identified eight shark species, some of them endangered.

“The major finding is that there are endangered species in shark fin soup sold in the United States. One sample taken from Boston had scalloped hammerhead,” said Liz Karan, who heads the global shark conservation campaign at the Pew Environment Group. “Scalloped hammerhead is considered endangered by the International Union of Conservation’s red list of endangered species.”

Shark finning - cutting off the fins while the shark is still alive and throwing the body overboard - is banned in the United States. __________ shark fishing and the import of fins are allowed. So far, only five U.S. states have banned shark fin products.

“Overfishing of sharks is a global problem. Hong Kong is currently the hub of the shark fin trade, and there are about 80 countries that contribute to that trade,” said Karan.

Over the last 60 years, the world’s shark population has plummeted by nearly 80 percent, according to a study by the Pew Environment Group. The group believes sanctuaries for sharks could help them.

“They have a very long life span and often don’t reach sexual maturity until their teens or 20s and, when they do reproduce, some species only have a couple of pups at the time. So their ability to repopulate and recover from overfishing pressures is very small,” said Karan.

The Humane Society International leads one of the largest campaigns to protect sharks. Iris Ho is the wildlife campaigns manager.

“Over 90 percent of the world’s shark fin consumption takes place in China, and Hong Kong alone handles about 50 percent of the global trade in shark fins,” she said.

The Chinese government has announced it will stop serving shark fin soup at official functions. Ho says outside of Asia, the U.S. is the largest market.

“According to government records, in 2010, 34 metric tons of shark fins were imported to the U.S.,” she said.

Sharks have been around for 400 million years, pre-dating the dinosaurs. But scientists believe they may be unable to survive this ongoing assault.

 

1. Which of the following statements best states the main idea of the article?

A) Restaurants are encouraged to use substitute ingredients for shark fin soup.

B) Shark farming could be an alternative solution to save sharks.

C) Sharks will be at risk of extinction if they are not protected.

D) Efforts to ban shark fin soup prove to be difficult.

 

2. Most sharks are killed for their _____.

A) fins B) skin C) liver oil D) skeleton

 

3. Shark fin soup samples were taken from restaurants in the United States and China.

A) True B) False

 

4. Which of the following words best fits the blank in paragraph 3?

A) analyses B) analysts C) analytical D) analyzes

 

5. What was the result of DNA testing on shark fin soup?

A) Some of the soup samples didn’t contain real shark in them.

B) Shark fin soup had toxic chemicals which might be from the food sharks eat.

C) The test revealed evidence of possible new species of sharks.

D) The finding confirmed that soup samples contained fin of endangered shark species.

 

6. Which of the following transition words best fits the blank in paragraph 5?

A) Thus B) Similarly C) But D) Then

 

7. The word plummeted is closest in meaning to _____.

A) increased B) plunged C) climbed D) risen

 

8. Which of the following statements about sharks is TRUE?

A) Sharks have a lifespan of about 20 years.

B) Sharks reach maturity at about 5 years old.

C) Sharks produce a large number of babies once every two years.

D) Sharks existed before there were dinosaurs.

 

9. “they” in the last paragraph refers to _____.

A) sharks B) 400 million years C) dinosaurs D) scientists

 

Answer Key:

1. C 2. A 3. B 4. A 5. D 6. C 7. B 8. D 9. A

Source: http://www.voanews.com/content/genetic_analyses_show_endangered_species_in_shark_fin_soup/1488971.html

 
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