It’s Shark Week. And while some people gawk at their televisions (or computers, or tablets) at the Great Whites, some are actually eating them. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year to feed consumer demand for their meat.
That’s happening less and less, according to WildAid. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China, but WildAid estimates that it’s dropped about 70% due to China’s increasing austerity and anti-corruption policies. Sharks, more often than not, are endangered.
Besides conserving their lives, shark meat can be terribly unhealthy. According to a CNN report from nearly 20 years ago, the mercury levels in sharks can cause coordination loss, blindness, and even death. Scientists think that sharks accumulate mercury in their body because they eat many smaller fish.
“What we found for our 124 sharks that we sampled was that about one-third of them came in with mercury levels that were over the Food and Drug Administration’s action level of one part per million,” Robert Hueter, the director of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, told CNN at the time.
A 2004 report from the EPA was pretty stark: “Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.”
In slightly related news, salmon is full of healthy protein and fat.