Our shark consumption is not only endangering sharks but has also negative impacts on our health.
Sharks DO get cancer
The myth that sharks do not get cancer has been promoted by shark cartilage dietary supplements sellers. Despite little documentation, tumours have been found on 23 shark species already. Cancerous tumours among marine animals would even be on the rise, probably due to human activity and industrial pollutants affecting the oceans.
Another thing is that eating shark does not protect people from sickness, the same way one would not become more intelligent by eating a clever person’s brain.
The best way for humans to benefit from sharks is through research, to better understand how their body and genes work and find solutions to specific issues (such as determining the reason for their faster healing to scars).
Sharks and rays host over 2,000 species of parasites
Sharks get bacterial and viral infections and suffer significantly from parasites. Indeed, sharks are infected by thousands of tapeworms and other parasites which can be found everywhere in their body, including the brain, eyes or gills. Sharks are a fantastic food and breeding source for these parasites which can eventually threaten the shark’s life. For example, about 2,000 leopard sharks have been found dead between February and July of 2017 in the San Francisco Bay. The suspect of this mass killing is a “zombie” parasite which enters the nose of the animal, eats the brain, eventually leading to death.
Sharks contain high levels of mercury and plastic
Sharks contain high levels of mercury, microplastic and other toxins. As a result, not only eating shark meat is not healthy but it can also be dangerous. Human industrial activity has dramatically increased the amount of mercury in our oceans. Mercury is ingested by algae and enters the marine food chain where it is concentrated at each stage. As an apex predator, a shark ingests various preys and bioaccumulates their mercury. When eating shark meat, it is human’s turn to absorb the mercury which is a highly dangerous substance.
Cover photo: Nicole McLachlan