On the black market, Brazil ranks in the top 10 countries that produce shark fins, exporting around 200 tons of fins every year. This massive export of fins represents the slaughter of thousands of sharks off the coast of Brazil every single year, dealing a serious blow to local shark populations.

While shark attacks along the coast of some of Brazil’s beaches are high, commercial fishing of sharks is quickly wiping out populations to the point where in a few years there will be no further threat of attack in any of Brazil’s waters. This may sound like great news to tourists contemplating visiting the sandy shores of Brazil, but as ocean ecologists point out, the collapse of shark populations signal the beginning of the collapse of entire marine ecosystems.

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In an effort to publicize this growing epidemic of shark finning,  Sea Shepherd Brazil teamed up with Maplink.com.br (a popular Brazilian equivalent to MapQuest). In a campaign that is equal parts brilliant and gruesome, Sea Shepherd and Maplink designers have coordinated to color the ocean depicted on maps to show as deep red, to signify the blood of countless sharks slaughtered in Brazilian waters.

If seeing a blood-stained sea is not enough to make you care about the safety of marine mammals then I don’t know what will. The end goal of campaign “Bleeding Ocean” is to drive Brazilians to sign an online petition against shark finning.

The frequency of shark attacks along Brazil’s Recife Beach has stirred up a lot of tension between humans and the voiceless shark species. Driven by fear, anti-shark enthusiasts are unable to see the larger ecological picture that would be irreversibly impacted if the shark population in the area is eradicated. In an effort to ease relations, Sea Shepherd has participated in a number of education forums directed at finding viable, inexpensive solutions to Recife’s shark problem that do NOT involve culling the population.

There is much work that needs to be done in Brazil to help protect delicate shark populations, but the “Bleeding Ocean” campaign to stop shark finning is a great place to start.

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Image source: Albert kok/Wikimedia Commons

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