Sunday, 24 June 2012

Blue Sharks in Captivity and Shark fin soup

As a youth I desperately wanted to be a Marine Biologist and dedicate my adult life to working in the Caribbean documenting the life cycles and behaviours of Lemon Sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) in the mangrove lagoons. Instead, a couple of failed A'level chemistry modules and the adoption of Plan B I'm now as far away from that dream as I could be and now lead an existence writing about Politics and annoying people.

Still, I like to keep touch with my previous Par armore and this is how I stumbled onto a startling fact:

Blue Sharks (Prionace glauca) will not survive in captivity for more than Seven months.

As an oceanic pack hunter, the blue shark cruises literally around the world in temperate areas it is used to wide open spaces and hunting for its prey which are likewise oceanic swimmers. They are quite prevalent during the Squid breading seasons and through large schools of Tuna as well as torpedoed vessels which many a sailor will attest to during the Battle of the Atlantic. Unfortunately they are not so good in tanks.

Blue Sharks seem to struggle with having their movement restricted and often swim into the glass and other obstacles before eventually giving up the ghost and dying after a short time, the record being 7 months.

This is truly awful. Though I have been unable to find any aquariums in the UK that house there does appear to be some kept in Europe (notably Spain). I cannot believe that we can allow this sort of cruelty to go on, capturing these beautiful creatures in the open sea and caging them knowing full well that they will not survive long term. After all the capture of Great White Sharks ( Carcharodon carcharias) which is only one notch up the Environmental protection list, is prohibited because they do not take well to being fed food and prefer to hunt and thus pine and die sometimes in a matter of days! So why is acceptable to do this to the Blue?

A greater awareness of this needs to be raised with Government and the EU as this is an awful practice and moral standpoint that needs to be challenged. Indeed, I'm even tempted to write to my MEP on this. (My word I have got middle aged!!!)

Another awful practice that I've been aware of for many years and which has received a lot of publicity but yet still goes on, is the harvesting of the Dorsal and pectoral fins for Soup and medicines by China.

I'm not a vegetarian and I also believe that the sea has a good stock of food for mankind to life off (responsibly fished naturally!) but the Chinese and other Asiatic nations waste many Shark's carcasses. After catching the sharks, usually whole sale on a large industrial vessel, they have their Dorsal, tail and Pectoral fins cut off and then they are thrown back into the sea.

It was truly the most heart breaking thing I have ever seen on television, the sight of an oceanic Blue without its fins sinking towards the depths, still alive and attempting to swim.

Had the fishermen taken the Shark and processed the whole thing for meat, oils and fins, then that's fine but the whole thing is wasted and left to sink to the abyss. It is wasteful and inhumane and action must be taken against these countries to curb this barbarism.

1 comment:

  1. As a one time wannabe marine biologist, think about what we can learn about successfully keeping a blue shark in captivity. If we can keep more than one and breed the sharks we might be able to get a genetic pool deep enough that we can help reintroduce these animals in the wild. If you feel so sorry for the Blue Shark being finned then you should want these animals to be successfully kept in captivity so there is breeding stock, especially as this species is threatened.