Sting nets shark-fin traders

Ecuadorian environmental police seized more than 18,000 shark fins and arrested four suspects during a recent undercover investigation into the illegal shark-fin trade in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society helped with the covert operation, tracing potential exit points for smugglers. The efforts led authorities to two passenger buses loaded with nearly 600 pounds of fins worth an estimated $140,000. The conservation group says the sharks are alive when traders cut their fins off and are tossed back into the water, where they bleed to death.

According to Sea Shepherd, some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent in the past 30 years. The organization plans to sue the suspects and will be analyzing the fins to determine whether any of the species are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.