"A few years ago, something surprising began turning up in Asia’s fish markets: the gill rakers of manta and mobula rays."
"Shawn Heinrichs and Paul Hilton, photographers who have been monitoring the international soaring trade in shark fins, decided to find out what was going on. The appearance of those creatures in the markets “came as a real shock to us,” Mr. Heinrichs said by phone from Indonesia. “They don’t even taste good, so what was the reason?”
On Saturday, the conservation organizations Shark Savers and WildAid released the results of a comprehensive global study showing that these species have been driven to the brink of extinction within a chillingly short space of time. The main reason is demand from China, where their gill rakers (filaments that filter the animals’ food from the water) are marketed as a supposed cure for a variety of ailments."