Sherman’s Lagoon creator Jim Toomey will be featured in an exhibit of his work at the Aquarium of the Bay (San Francisco, CA) to raise awareness of shark finning. Shark finning is the practice of catching sharks, removing the fins and dumping the shark back into the water – often still alive. The fins are then sold to sell Chinese shark fin soup and traditional cures.
“There’s nothing funny or entertaining about the practice of shark finning, but because my lead character is a shark, I felt like I had to address this important issue and make the public more aware of it,” says Sherman’s Lagoon creator Jim Toomey.
Toomey, an advocate for sharks, uses his nationally syndicated Sherman’s Lagoon comic strip to entertain as well as educate by addressing issues including shark finning, over-fishing and the importance of establishing marine protected areas. Toomey was given the first SharkSaver award last fall, during Aquarium of the Bay’s Sharktober celebration.
“Sherman’s Lagoon: Finning Isn’t Funny” introduces visitors to the global threats of shark finning, through the eyes of Sherman the shark and his underwater friends. Displays featuring Toomey’s shark finning-focused comics, daily naturalist-led presentations, an action station where visitors of all ages can help prevent shark finning and a Sherman photo opportunity are all part of this intriguing exhibit. Visitors can also create and sign individual letters that the Aquarium will mail to the head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, urging international bans on the horrific act of shark finning.
Worldwide, shark specialists estimate that 100 million sharks are killed for their fins every year. After having their fins cut off, the sharks are often tossed back into the sea still alive, where they die a slow death. Finning is a widespread and largely unmanaged and unmonitored act that has increased over the past decade. Shark fins are primarily used in shark fin soup, and one pound of dried shark fin can retail for more than $300, making finning a multi-billion dollar industry.