Shanghaiist knows a thing or two about Australia. So we obviously know a bit about sharks (or “Noahs”, as they’re called Down Under). We therefore read with great interest that the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium has opened a special exhibition called “I Love Sharks — Our Ocean, Our Home.”
We love sharks too. We love their mystery, their inquisitive nature, their beautiful design … and the way their eyes roll back in their heads when they rip people to shreds.
Still, every animal deserves a fair go in this world, and the reality is that sharks are under threat. In fact, this Shanghai Daily article points out that 100 species of shark are exploited and around 20 — including the white shark and whale shark — are endangered.
Part of the problem stems from the Chinese fondness for that gooey, brown staple of the fancy banquet table, shark’s fin soup.
Shark’s fins, known in China as yuchi or “fish wing,” is believed by many Chinese to benefit the immune system, digestion and blood pressure. Shark’s fin soup, an expensive dish, is particularly popular in Southeast Asia — the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.
As a result of this popularity, close to 10,000 tons of fins are shipped around the world each year. And plenty of those end up in the restaurants of Shanghai. Some places in the city sell more than 100 bowls a day, at 200-1300 RMB a pop. Yet, as the Aquarium director points out, “its flavor and nutritional value are played up.” Indeed, scientific research shows that there is little nutritional value in shark’s fin — in fact, too much of it can be a bad thing because of the high mercury levels often found in the product.
The exhibition, funded to the tune of 5 million RMB by the Aquarium and WildAid, “a non-profit wildlife conservation organization”, features over 20 species of the animal, including nurse sharks, hammerhead sharks and the less-than-threatening-sounding Japanese carpet sharks.
In other shark-related news, an Australian surfer recently fought off a bronze whaler shark by repeatedly punching it in the nose. As you do.
“I Love Sharks – Our Ocean, Our Home” runs from now until the end of the year. The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is at 158 Yincheng Bei Lu near the Oriental Pearl Tower. Tel: 5877-9988
Photo from www.surfshooter.com (it’s actually a dolphin, by the way …).