Today we saw something we didn't expect to see. Shark meat sold in a market we've been to so many times before. Two different vendors in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, PA, had shark meat in a display case.
Cities are not immune. Shark meat isn't just being sold in coastal cities. It's being sold in cities all over the world, and it needs to stop now.
Ever thought about consuming shark meat? You may want to think again. Sharks are apex predators, the top of the ocean food web. This means that they essentially consume almost every organism in the food web, starting with organisms as small as plankton. As sharks consume their prey, their prey has consumed plankton, small fish, larger fish, and so on. This causes what we call bioaccumulation.
Image on bioaccumulation via Nakawe Project.
Chemicals in the ocean, like the toxin mercury, build up over time in bodies of the prey organisms for sharks, so when sharks prey on them, these toxins are then transferred into their bodies. When humans consume shark meat, they also consume these toxins. One study in New Jersey showed that the levels of methylmercury were found in 19 species of bony fish and the largest concentrations were found in sharks. The levels found in a Mako shark were 1.8 parts per million (ppm). The US EPA states that people should not eat fish or sharks with methylmercury levels higher than 0.3 ppm.
Not only can consuming shark meat harm humans, it also takes sharks out of the ocean ecosystem, and this can cause a cascading effect harming the entire marine food web, which impacts and supports all life on Earth.
We need sharks. Don't eat shark meat and do what you can to educate others to make the same choice. Together, we can make a difference.
Photo taken of mako shark meat for sale for $4.99/lb at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, PA.
Our partners, the Nakawe Project, work hard fighting for sharks and educating the public on the dangers associated with consuming shark meat.
To mitigate the issue of shark meat consumption in Mexico, Nakawe Project, in partnership with Turtle Island Restoration Network , launched a
“Got Mercury ?” campaign. To learn more about this campaign, please visit: http://www.nakaweproject.org/got-mercury/
Image via the Nakawe Project and Turtle Island Restoration Project.