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This is an excerpt from the transcript of a podcast online:

"We did some calculations and the results were remarkable. We determined that the average shark was worth about $200,000 over the course of its life. And when you compare it to finning that animal--a one-time extractive use--seeing it for diving is worth about 40 percent more."

I don't understand the sentence in bold. Here are my questions:

  1. What does "finning that animal" mean? I've looked up the word "fin" into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, but I can make sense of the entries.
  2. What does "it" refer to in "seeing it for diving is worth about 40 percent more" refer to?
  3. What's the subject for the word "seeing"?
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No brainer -- If we could understand 'skinning', 'finning' should be no big deal. –  Kris Mar 3 '12 at 11:20
    
@Kris: It's certainly a no-brainer in context. I have to say the original article seems to have been written by someone with at best a tiny brain. Well below the standard I might have expected from Scientific American - but I don't read it, so maybe my expectations are hopelessly optimistic anyway. Whatever - the question is either General Reference or Too Localised. –  FumbleFingers Mar 3 '12 at 14:59
    
Well I just think it's not a real question in any case. Voting to close. –  Kris Mar 4 '12 at 12:35
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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, Kris, JSBձոգչ, Mitch, Mahnax Aug 22 '12 at 5:28

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Finning means cutting off the shark's fins, in order to sell them. I think they just mean selling all the body parts of the shark so far as they are worth anything.

"It" is the shark.

"Seeing" has no subject: it is a gerund, as in "killing aliens is very good". It just means "the action of seeing it".

The meaning of the sentence is this. If you kill a shark, you will get some money for its body parts. But, if you keep it alive and let people pay for watching it while they dive, you will get 40 % more money for it during its life tine.

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Why I can't find the corresponding meaning of "fin" in the dictionary? Is it of special usage? –  Jack Mar 3 '12 at 6:53
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@Jack: This may not be a frequent use of the word, but it is the first definition for "fin" as a verb on Dictionary.com. See definition 10: dictionary.reference.com/browse/fin –  Cerberus Mar 3 '12 at 7:07
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It is a special verbal usage, called the Privative (restricted mostly to nouns that refer to edible plants and animals), which means to remove something, normally for food preparation, e.g, seed a pepper, skin a rabbit, milk a cow, peel a grape. It contrasts with the Provisional usage, which is more general, and means to provide something, e.g, seed a lawn, roof a house, hem a dress, fence a yard. –  John Lawler Mar 3 '12 at 16:22
    
I'm really interested in knowing why people think my questions are "not real". And why do they want to close it. Some people like to close questions without giving any reasonable advises for a English learner in this place. –  Jack Mar 4 '12 at 16:07
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@Jack: No problem! I agree that it would be better to close fewer questions, and that the rules about what is off topic are arbitrary and vague. But the majority wants it so: we should accept the situation as it is and make the best of if. –  Cerberus Mar 5 '12 at 4:38
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  1. Finning refers to shark finning -- killing a shark solely for its fins, which are used in shark fin soup and traditional remedies.
  2. "It" refers to the shark.
  3. "Seeing" has no subject; it refers to a diver seeing the shark in its natural habitat.

The speaker is making the point that charging divers money to dive with sharks generates more revenue than cutting off and selling their fins.

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