- Endangered Species Found in Countrywide Shark Fin Soup Survey
- Influx of Mola Mola in Southern California Waters
- Sea Chair Project Takes Aim at Repurposing Sea Trash
DNA tests performed on more than 50 samples collected from 14 restaurants across the nation revealed that some of the fins in shark fin soup were coming from endangered and protected species, including the scalloped hammerhead, blue, and schooling sharks. The team was comprised of shark attack victims, who now serve as advocates for shark protection, and researchers from the Stony Brook University of New York. The group encountered difficulty in identifying what species was in the soup simply by asking restaurant owners, who often didn’t know or refused to answer. This survey was the largest of its kind performed in the US, aimed at raising awareness for endangered shark species and shark conservation.
Whale sightings are common along the California coast at certain types of year, including humpback, blue, fin, and minke whales, but a recent influx of Mola mola is causing a stir among boaters living in the San Diego and LA area. Also known as the ocean sunfish, the Mola mola is a peculiar-looking creature, with a broad, flattened body and two oar-like fins on either side. These creatures can grow to be 14 feet long and weigh a staggering 5,000 lbs! Despite their enormous size, Mola mola are docile and completely harmless to humans, even a bit curious when people are in the water, swimming right up to check out the action. It is thought that the ocean sunfish is proliferating the area due to a higher concentration of jellies and salps, a soft, gelatinous colony of creatures that floats with the current. They can often be seen basking at the surface, presumably soaking up the rays of the sun since they spend much of their time in deeper, colder waters.
In response to the fishing industry crisis incurred by ever-dwindling fish stocks, artist Kieren Jones and Studio Swine have created a concept that would not only help fishermen subsidize their income while out at sea, but begin to reduce the disheartening amount of plastic in our oceans. The Sea Chair is made completely from ocean-harvested plastics, using tools made from refurbished agricultural machinery sourced from salvage yards. The entire production process happens on board the ship concurrent with fishing expeditions, and every piece collected in the harvesting process is put to use. Even the marine debris that is left over from the plastic harvest, like wood bits and seaweed, is pressed into briquettes and used to fire the kiln that melts the plastic. After each Sea Chair is assembled, it is then tagged with geographical coordinates and a production number, making each chair one of a kind. The project creators noted that as the Earth’s crude oil stocks near total depletion, plastics may be a viable fuel source in the future, and there’s plenty of it in our oceans.