A couple of months ago, National Geographic ran a feature on the fate of Sharks around the world. Some species are endangered, simply because of the demand for their fins to make an Asian specialty soup. But, now, there’s another reason not to eat Shark Fins and it addresses the eater…
Shark Fins are preserved by sun-drying on the roof of a factory building
in Hong Kong, the unofficial Shark Fin capital of Asia.
A new report by researchers at the University of Miami warns that Sharks – especially larger, older ones – contain high levels of certain bio-toxins and Mercury – all especially harmful to humans, even in small amounts.
One of the toxins found was β-N-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) which has been linked to neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS, What’s worse, Mercury also has effects on the brain and nervous system and the researchers warned that the two together, as found in Shark Fins and Meat, are synergistic, That means they work together to bring you down. Ten species of Sharks found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are studied and BMMA was found in all of them. Most of the species tested also showed levels of Mercury worth worrying about.
The larger and older the Shark, the longer it’s had to absorb the Mercury and bio-toxins. And the more toxic its Fins and Meat are.
The study, rather conservatively, recommends, “restricting human consumption of shark meat and fins due to the high frequency and co-occurrence of two synergistic environmental neurotoxic compounds.”
I tried Shark Fin soup once, many years ago. It was expensive then and it’s more expensive now, as Sharks are brutally over-fished. And it tasted unpleasant to me. As with many things folks do to honour cultural traditions, Shark Fin Soup isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s only marginally less dangerous, if made a habit, than eating Fugu. You may recall that’s the notoriously deadly Japanese Puffer Fish that costs a fortune and can only be served by licensed professional Fugu Chefs. Fugu toxin can kill in minute amounts. But, like Shark Fin Soup, people still risk eating it because it’s an ancient tradition.
That’s just nutty.
~ Maggie J.