By virtue of its name, the whale shark summons a ferocious mental image, something along the lines of Moby Dick meets Jaws. But in reality, the creature is a gentle, slow-moving fish. Unfortunately for the species, that means whale sharks are easily captured by fishers, who chop off their fins to supply a hungry Asian market for shark-fin soup. The fins are pricey — in China, a single whale shark fin can fetch more than $10,000 — but as Asia has become more affluent, the soup has become more popular; consuming it is now a way of demonstrating social status. That’s a tragedy for the whale shark, but it’s also bad news for ocean ecosystems in general, because changes to any species disrupt the marine food chain. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is calling on nations to adopt shark conservation action plans, but so far, few have obliged.