by Marissa Quinn
Bali, Indonesia – September 2018
The most financially valuable part of the shark and a primary incentive for shark fishing is the fin. Large numbers of sharks become victims of the barbaric practice known as shark finning. In the method of shark finning, a shark is caught, usually using a longline with baited hooks, and then pulled on board where fishermen cut the fins from the shark. Often still alive, the shark is thrown overboard and unable to swim and in agonizing pain, the shark then sinks to the bottom of the ocean to either drown or be eaten alive. This is not only a terribly cruel practice but is also highly wasteful. Because sharks are often caught as bycatch on regular fishing boats, reducing the capture of sharks also needs to be addressed by fisheries that do not specifically target sharks.
Home to the world’s largest shark fishery, Indonesia plays a significant part in the global demise of shark populations. Only very few no-take zones or shark sanctuaries have been established across Indonesia, and there remains a great need to provide financially viable alternatives to local fishing communities who rely on shark fishing for their livelihoods.
For this mural I have chosen to highlight the issue of shark-finning happening off the shores of Nusa Penida, Indonesia, which is now the number one country in the world for the exporting of sharks and shark fins. According to a recent global National Geographic study, it is estimated that annually, humans kill over 100 million sharks- a number that far exceeds any population’s ability to recover. Most sharks reproduce slowly, and like the white shark depicted in my mural, many gestate their eggs for over a year in the womb before giving birth to only one or just a few pups.
Although horrifying, this subject matter is quite delicate, especially to the families who are the descendants of hundreds of generations of fishermen and women, who are now faced with the demands of modernization and global trade. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, I have created a piece that honors the shark for its sacrifice while honeybees, a powerful historical symbol of the Divine Feminine, work to help the shark heal and re-grow.
Here I have painted the sunflower holding the White Shark as a symbolic call for global peace. The marigold and the plumeria frame a golden circle surrounding the shark and bees, both flowers are used in traditional Balinese ceremonies to honor God with beauty and gratitude for the circle of life.
This is a narrative against the horrific practice of shark-finning and is a plea for us humans to be like the sunflower and the honeybee- to be workers of light in harmony and at peace with our sister and brother creatures on this Earth.
Help conserve shark populations by: