Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
Shark finning is the practice of removing and retaining the fins of sharks, while the remainder of the shark is tossed overboard. This is done at sea, so that only the valuable fins need to be transported to market. The practice is controversial as it contributes to overharvest of shark stocks, is seen as wasteful, and is often performed on live sharks, which then are doomed to die.
Shark finning is regularly in the news of late, so Beel began wondering about the prevalence of this practice in different media. Let Beel present the results.
Tweets involving shark finning have been common over the past month, with a few obvious peaks. This Twitter activity typically represents tweets and retweets of news stories about finning. One of the more popular, and most impressive, of these stories is a report by Dan Rather, whom Beel dislikes, that shows video of finned sharks laying about, and dying on, a coral reef.
It is unclear how long this practice has been going on, however, the phrase, “shark finning” either did not occur, or was exceedingly rare, in English literature until the late 1980s, as indicated in this graph from the Google ngram Viewer.
Since 1988, there has been a steady increase in the prevalence of the phrase “shark finning” in the English literature. While this may not indicate when the practice began, it does mark the ascent of finning to a fishery and conservation issue.