Shark Produce Consumption Potentially Life Changing

It is widely known that sharks are relentlessly persecuted every year in the finning industry to provide the ‘star’ ingredient in shark fin soup popular in Asia. In addition to this, individuals wanting to increase their general health consume other shark products such as oil supplements and cartilage pills.

The shark finning industry is a lucrative business around the globe and provides a vital income to poorer areas (although the majority of any profits from distributing shark fin soup will go to the established businesses which sell it). Estimates of how many sharks are killed per year range from 70 – 100 million due to finning and by – catch. Most shark species are listed as endangered by the IUCN red list due to overfishing, reaching sexual maturity later in life and not producing many offspring during their lifetime.

Finning is an extremely cruel practice involving the removal of the fins whilst the sharks are alive and then returning them to the sea. For a species that requires its fins for locomotion to allow water to flow over its gills to breath, they are left to suffocate on the ocean floor.

Researchers at the University of Miami have discovered that shark fins (collected from living specimens of 7 species of shark) that may be intended for consumption, contained high concentrations of β-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). BMAA is a neurotoxin that is linked to neurodegenerative diseases in humans such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig Disease (ALS), significantly reducing people’s quality of life.

This research may come as quite a shock to those that like to tuck into a bowl of shark fin soup or consume shark liver oil, as this news is potentially life changing! As for the sharks, the results from this research is obviously very encouraging for the recovery of their populations, as it could potentially mean, the banning (or higher control) of shark produce around the world because of the very high concentrations of BMAA found.

Haley Dolton

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WOULD YOU BUY A TATTOOED FISH?

Photo courtesy of Squish_E

The practice of tattooing fish began in 2005 using dye techniques that would eventually fade. Since 2005, tattooing techniques have evolved to allow popular phrases, hearts and even rainbows to be permanently tattooed on fish.

The lucky species of fish that is most commonly used, is the tropical parrotfish. This is because they are relatively large and have a high survival rate after tattooing. Since tattooing techniques have improved, the practice is spreading to other smaller, less hardy species such as goldfish.

Tattooed fish have become very popular in China and Vietnam because they are believed to bring good luck. For example, one of the popular tattooed phrases in China reads, “May your business boom” in English. They are now commonly sold in the USA for the pet trade, but also to businesses who wish to write a nice message to their customers using this dynamic sketchpad.

Fish without tattoos can cost around £1.00, whereas tattooed fish, fetch around £2.50. As a relatively cheap technique done en masse, tattooed fish can provide a good return on investments made by pet shop owners. Designs are tattooed on the fish by either using dyes inserted via injection (taking up to half a year to develop) or by low intensity lasers. Distributors of tattooed fish claim that no harm comes to any of the fish during tattooing.

However, tattooed fish have a low survival rate, hence the stronger parrotfish being the most popular choice for vendors. In addition to this, lasers and injections damage a protective surface layer on the fish, leaving them prone to infections. There have also been instances of viruses spreading in populations of tattooed fish due to the unhygienic use of needles.

Legislative bodies are still deliberating whether this unnecessarily cruel practice should be made illegal or not. Raising the awareness of the general public will hopefully decrease this practice in western cultures. Surely most people would agree, these fish are naturally beautiful and do not need potentially harmful designs to make them appealing.

Haley Dolton

 

Alarming trend in China: keyrings containing live animals

A disturbing and cruel trend is emerging in China; keyrings containing live animals. The keyrings may contain one of three options for the discerning customer: one newt, one Brazil turtle or two small kingfish. Each keyring contains ‘nutrient rich water’ in varying choices of colour and can be bought for as little as £1.00. Of course, the water is not nutrient rich (tested by veterinarians) and the animals are contained in a small space until they die a few days later due to suffocation. But with prices this cheap, does it really matter to the customer if they die quickly when they can purchase more of them cheaply, ever increasing the demand?

The keyrings are sold openly in public areas due to this trade being completely legal in China as they are not ‘wild animals.’ Members of the general public acquire these keyrings perhaps as a ‘cool novelty’ or as one unidentified customer said “I’ll hang it in my office, it looks nice and brings good luck.” Some well-wishers are unintentionally increasing demand as they are buying large quantities of keyrings and releasing the animals into the wild.

In addition to increasing demand, the released animals may cause additional problems to the ecosystem if animals are released in the wrong environments, resulting in competition for limited resources. Customers should also be aware of the health risks posed by the animals in the keyrings. For example, turtles are carriers of salmonella bacteria, which may be extremely harmful if individuals come in contact with it.

This obvious cruelty is becoming increasingly popular in China. Encouragingly, so is the global awareness of this trade, sparking campaigns to try and stop the sale of these keyrings immediately. If the general public of China use their better judgement, hopefully the demand will drop and the trend will decrease.

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