The Tooth About Sharks!

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This is a post that we were sent the other day from Terry Nichols of Tank Bangers.  It has to be the only time that i have come across a link between ‘nasal mucous’ and the need to save sharks! This amused me no end and so i thought i would share Terrys musings with you here.  Enjoy……but be warned if you find talking about bodily functions and bad habits offensive you might want to skip this one! 

The tooth; about sharks.  by Terry Nichols.
A message to consumers of shark fin soup.
As a small child, I never really understood why my mother would continually berate me for picking my nose. I mean why couldn’t she just accept that my little fingers were at their most-happiest buried deep in my head excavating mucus. Well, that, and the cookie jar. It was like she had a digit-to-nasal-cavity-proximity-alarm or something and coupled with the reaction time of a feral cat on speed and the ability to hurl inanimate objects at close to the speed of sound with the kind of pin-point accuracy a laser guided missile can only dream of; getting caught soon became a major concern.
            No, as a pre-pubescent, fledgling member of society, it was the most natural thing in the world to me and something I’d seen plenty of other kids do, so it was obviously alright. Without formal study or lessons I quickly had the technique down to a T; right index finger for the juicy stuff and either pinkie finger for the hard to reach stuff further in. Of course, disposal was always a matter of location and personal preference. For me, and I’m sure I’m not alone, the quickest and the most convenient, was the old roll-n-flick. Usually discreetly low level as to avoid detection and the ensuing high speed projectile onslaught that would surely follow.
            Nowadays, you’ll be no doubt most pleased to learn, I have adopted a far more modern, hygienic and dare I say, politically correct stance to nasal cleanliness. Namely tissue paper.  I also realise that, despite the odd primitive longing for nostalgic indulgences, picking ones nose, in public at least, is considered bad form. I undertook an experience that small pre-pubescent members of society take for granted every single day. Well, those of a parents-without-hoods disposition anyway. I learnt something and I made a small, but some would say nonetheless important change in my life.
         So anyway, my love affair with the form and function of evolutionary design also started at an early age. First it was dinosaurs. I marvelled at their sheer size, ingeniously diverse weaponry and their highly adaptive distribution. With a reign of approximately 160 million years the dinosauria were also one of the most successful groups of animal our planet has ever seen. And then, quite by accident, I stumbled upon a creature who’s reign not only made that of the dinosaurs look like Indian batsman RP Singh’s latest stint at the crease, they were not finished yet! Add to that a body layout so perfectly streamlined it practically screamed “bad ass”. This is a hugely important point of consideration to an adolescent boy contemplating his choices of creatures to idolise and adorn his bedroom wall.
Evidence for the existence of their kind dates from the Ordovician period, over 450–420 million years ago, before land vertebrates existed and before many plants had colonized the continents. So they not only predate the dinosaurs by some considerable margin, they also survived whatever it was that ultimately wiped the big lizards out. It would be fair to say, therefore, that these creatures must be pretty dam good at what they do and that they must have well and truly earned their place in the current ecosystems of this planet.
This is down to, in no small part, their incredible design which is so much more than just hydrodynamic perfection. An almost legendary olfactory capability able to detect blood as diluted as 1 part per million. Tapetum lucidum (a shiny layer of tissue in the eye that reflects light back to the retina to you and me!) equipped eyesight, adapted for lower light levels. A series of receptors running the length of each flank known as nueromasts make up the lateral line which is used to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water.
Electromagnetic field receptors called the Ampullae of Lorenzini bestow them with the greatest electrical sensitivity of any animal allowing them to not only detect the minute bio-electric fields of potential prey but to navigate using the Earths magnetic field. And finally some of the coolest, most highly specialised, and just plain gruesome dentistry the world has ever known. You add all of these things – these components on the wish list of a perfect predator – with a pinch of elegance, grace and panache and you are left with – a shark.
Obviously, to a 6 year old, very little of this made sense. I didn’t know what electroreceptor’s were or ‘imps with um-pelly’s’ belonging to some Italian bloke could possibly do. Except, of course, for the glaringly apparent purposefulness of their primary weaponry. Sharks teeth literally come in all shapes and sizes from the needle like Sand Tiger, to the circular saw of the Cookiecutter shark to the 7 inch serrated daggers of C. megalodon. One thing they all have in common, however, is that they are all exquisitely adapted to their specific task at hand. It can also make them look mean, dangerous and menacing. Which of course they are – if you happen to be on their menu. Which by the way, humans are not!
And therein lays the problem. It is because of the fact that they are so beautifully equipped to dominate their habitats – true masters of their environment – and equipped with sharp, pointy, frightening looking dentistry that, to most of us, they carry a label and that label reads “evil dangerous man eaters”. And this, one imagines, must make it much easier to tuck in to a bowl of soup containing select parts of these gruesome evil killers without even the slightest hint of guilt. I mean after all, they’d do the same to us in a heartbeat right!?
Well actually…   er, no. That’s not correct. As I said, we humans are not on the menu. Why would we be? Our natural habitat is terrestrial for starters. Sharks don’t hunt so well on the savannah. And their ability to blend into an urban scene is not exactly well documented. “Oh, but I’ve seen shark attacks on the news and the telly” I hear you say. This is, you will find, largely to do with the fact that we are prone to wonder into their environment from time to time. In much the same way as you would expect anyone strolling through the Serengeti in khaki shorts and sand shoes to arouse the interest of the local lion prides. Yet most of us appreciate that people do not constitute the daily dietary requirements of a lion. And let’s not forget the fact that more people are killed by vending machines, lightning strikes and the humble bumble bee every year than by sharks. It’s true that is, you can look it up.
In comparison humans are responsible for an estimated 38 – 73 million shark deaths each and every year (according to ICCS Ecology letters, (2006) 9: 115-1126), mostly to supply the shark fin trade. Given the fact that most reproduce very slowly and cannot keep up with the rate at which we are destroying them do you really think that shark fin soup is going to remain available to you indefinitely? Or will there come a point where there are simply no more sharks left? Think about it. Every time you order that dish you – you – are personally responsible for helping ensure the demise of a group of animals that has more than earned its right to exist on this planet, by trial, over the last 450 million years. All because of a dish that is more status symbol than nutrition or taste. Now tell me that you are still happy to be a shark fin soup consumer knowing that in all likelihood your doing so is going to result in extinction of one of this planets most awe-inspiring creatures. Not to mention the impact that a catastrophe of that magnitude will have on our oceanic ecosystems.
  You see, sharks are vital to the food chain. They regulate other species and weed out the sick and the injured. Without them the delicate balance of life in our oceans faces untold damage to extents we don’t yet fully understand. They have fulfilled this role, impeccably, since before our species even crawled out of the ocean and now, along with an irrational fear and general ignorance of them, people continue to consume their fins thinking it will give them magical cancer fighting abilities, in a soup flavoured mostly with chicken stock that costs an arm and a leg.
Come on people, open your eyes and smell the coffee. Do you really think it is alright to arbitrarily exterminate a whole species because of your own misguided greed and longing for status? Ignorance is fast becoming an excuse that others are finding less and less acceptable. The oceans are not the limitless convenience store you think they are. Sharks are not the mindless, unsophisticated murderers you think they are. And if people continue to demand shark fin soup, people will continue to hunt them until a bowl costs over a thousand dollars and there are simply no sharks left.
Then what? Do you really care? What about the rest of us? Tell me you’re not happy to sit back and selfishly ignore the evidence and the warnings because it’s important for you to have this delicacy to impress your friends and peers. Well answer me this; what is more important than the health of our oceans and our home planet, because let me tell you, it is the only one we have and once we ruin it that’s it. There is no Earth 2.0 in development just around the corner. Despite what Sony and Apple may tell you.
The bottom line can therefore be summed up, with somewhat approximation, thusly; You and a friend are stuck in an elevator with 5 other people on the 115th floor of a skyscraper. It is unclear how long before help arrives. In the mean time you have developed a taste for hydraulic fluid in the control panel. The others just think this is strange because they know hydraulic fluid of little nutritional value but hey, it seems to make you happy and your friend seems well impressed. Until somebody notices that the more hydraulic fluid you consume, the less pressure is applied to the emergency breaks. Then somebody else figures out that if you continue to consume hydraulic fluid, there will be none left and the breaks will fail and you will all plummet, at velocity, down 105 floors to the ground.
Now; what do you think is the right thing to do? It really is that simple. It took the mind of a 6 year old child to work out that nasal mucus offers little in the way of health benefits and that digging for it is considered impolite to the rest of us.
On behalf of concerned people in the rest of the world, kindly re-examine your eating habits as they may end up causing problems for all of us. Thank you.
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