19 April 2013

Man-eating sharks vs. men eating sharks

From A London Salmagundi.  Please reblog.


  1. Thank you! We are rapidly killing off our largest land and sea animals in the cruelest, most brutal ways imaginable- just for small bits and pieces of their bodies in the name of human greed and vanity. China must be confronted in no uncertain terms about their leading role in this wholesale slaughter and near extinction of species.

    And Stephen Spielberg should lead the charge and spare a few bucks on helping out the animal that garnered him untold fame and millions, and which he in no small part helped demonize world wide.

  2. There's something fishy about those numbers.

    1. Are you doubting the data, or just trying to be funny?

  3. I've had a close encounter with a shark under the conditions where sharks are most likely to occur, I came out fine. I went swimming in January only about a mile from San Luis Pass in Galveston. The water is still pretty warm in early January and the air was warm enough that I wouldn't get totally chilled once I got out of the water. Recent storms had churned up the water so it was murky. That's when sharks tend to bite. They are just investigating, though a bite from a curious shark is quite damaging and can lead to drowning.

    I got bumped by something very large. It swam past me and brushed against me. I could feel the rough shark skin. I saw only the tip of the fin but could not identify the shark. It may have been a bull shark, or it might only have been a very large lemon shark.

    And please everyone, do not wade out into the water to go surf fishing at San Luis. The same outrush of water from West Bay that attracts all the big fish every low tide will also take you out to sea drown you. Sometimes there are even whirlpools.

  4. Wanna destroy a biosphere? Killing off all the apex predators is a GREAT way to start.

  5. I'm not so sure about those statistics. According to the beef industry, 33 million cattle are "harvested" per year in the US, which is under 4,000 an hour. Worldwide is about 10x, so 40,000 an hour.

    How could there be 11,000 sharks killed at hour? I eat beef once a week at least. I bet most Americans eat more. I've never eaten shark. I would suppose that most Americans have never eaten shark. And in China, shark fin soup is expensive, so I can't imagine many Chinese have eaten either. Something is "fishy" with these numbers.

    1. I found this -

      "Upwards of 73 millions sharks a year are killed for their fins alone. Approximately 50 million sharks die annually as bycatch in unregulated and indiscriminant longline, gillnet and trawl fisheries. High seas swordfish fisheries in Taiwan, Japan and Spain routinely catch large numbers of sharks as bycatch and then opportunistically take their fins."

      And if you consider the data you provided - you don't eat one cow once a week, you only eat perhaps one pound of a thousand-pound creature, whereas one shark probably doesn't even provide enough fin for one person's soup.

    2. It's true that I don't each a cow a week; I eat perhaps 1/2000 of a cow a week. I eat 0% of a shark a week. The ratio is infinite.

      Can you find a reliable source for "Upwards [greater than] of 73 million"? I find 73 million as an upper limit (cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_finning#Reporting ) not a lower limit.

      I can believe that many sharks are killed as a side effect of normal fishing. I am suspicious of the number attributed to just shark fins alone... see this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/09/best-newspaper-correction-ever_n_820783.html

    3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/100-million-sharks-killed-every-year_n_2813806.html

    4. I really don't have time to chase down details today. Re your earlier comment that "shark fin soup is expensive," I found this:

      "the third fallacy of shark fin soup – that it’s a luxury item conferring status on consumers and reflective of China’s growing affluence. What may have been true in 1995 is not even close to reality today. Pre-packaged frozen shark fin soup now sells in Hong Kong grocery stores for as little as US$1.40. In 2008 in Taiwan, journalist Lisa Ling reported finding shark fin products in gas station mini-marts."

      Also this:
      "In 2009/2010, BLOOM conducted the largest survey ever completed of Hong Kong’s shark consumption habits, as well as a smaller, pilot survey in Mainland China.


      (>1,000 respondents) Only 3% of people have consumed shark meat and just 6% of people have consumed shark oil capsules in the past year: shark fin soup is indeed the most widely consumed shark product in Hong Kong.


      Preliminary Mainland China survey (>500 respondents). 18% of respondents had eaten shark fin dishes..."

    5. Meanwhile, on the Indian version of TYWKIWDBI, a Hindu is doubting the number of cows killed annually.

      Shark meat is very rarely offered in most US restaurants, but I do think it is a much more common offering worldwide, primarily in the East. I tend to avoid seafood in general unless I reasonably believe it to have been farm-raised or caught using sustainable fishing practices. (The Vancouver Aquarium actually provides certification in a number of local restaurants that shows up next to each fish item on the menu if it has been sustainably harvested, which I think is a trend that needs to catch on elsewhere.) There is no doubt that our global fisheries are in a state of profound collapse, but I think our decimation of shark populations is the most abhorrent. As such, I have never tried shark meat and most likely never will.

      I don't generally think of myself as an activist or anything like that, so this is a really unusual stance for me. But I expect that unless major changes occur, we're going to see dramatic reductions in fish harvests in the next 20 years. Scientific American had some information on this last week in their Limits of the Earth articles: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/04/17/the-limits-of-the-earth-part-1-problems/

      As the article points out, consuming beef and poultry isn't without its consequences either, but at least it's not collapsing entire ecosystems.

    6. Here is the original source of the paper that quotes 26-73 million shark fins/year, with a median of 38 million.


      As far as I can tell, this is the only scientific study that has a number based on indirect statistics, but it is still not a direct measurement. However, in light of any competing study, I'll take it as the best estimate.

      But I'm still skeptical. With China's propensity to counterfeit, I wonder how much of the shark fin you can get in a can is really shark fin? Other estimates I saw on the web say shark fins bring $400/kg. That is a strong motivator for counterfeiting something that has no perceivable taste.

  6. http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/post/alarming-sight-thousands-of-shark-fins-drying-on-hong-kong-rooftop/



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