05/02/2011 - Sharks can be worth far more when they are swimming around the reef than when they are in a bowl of soup — as much as nearly $2 million each, in fact, according to the results of a study released Monday.
For the study, researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science considered the expenditures of divers who travel from around the world to the tiny Pacific nation of Palau to dive with the mainly gray reef and reef whitetip sharks that inhabit its waters, which were declared a shark sanctuary in 2009.
As a remote country of more than 300 islands — Manila, 530 miles away, is the closest city of consequence — Palau does not have many attractions beyond diving, so spending by international tourists on airfare, lodging and diving makes up an important part of the nation’s economy.
“It clearly indicates that no matter how you slice it, that a shark is worth more in the water than the sum of its parts when it’s cut up and sold,” said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group, which financed the study.
Read the full article Priced Off the Menu? Palau’s Sharks Are Worth $1.9 Million Each, a Study Says on The New York Times' Web site.