While identifying the species of juvenile shark featured in last month’s article – Bottle Sharks for Sale it was evident that the preservation bottle could easily be assembled in a garage or on a kitchen table. With that in mind I began to wonder what other marine life may have met its demise and is now sitting on shelves waiting for purchase by tourists and online shoppers. A search of less than 5 minutes produced photos of jars full of Bull sharks, Hammerheads, Octopi, and Squid.
Any child over the age of one can easily pull off the faux-cork base and unscrew the plastic tops on these jars. When I removed the juvenile shark for identification a noxious odor was emitted from the jar. When I touched the shark yellowish oil exuded from its body along with the stench of decay. One can only wonder what poisons may lurk in these jars that are happily carted home as souvenirs from the sea and turned over to children as playthings.
As stated in Part 1 of Bottled Sharks for Sale, the manufacturers of these products do not identify themselves nor the country of origin, making it extremely difficult to trace the source of the marine life forever encased in “ocean blue water…” as described by one online auction source. What I did find was a disclaimer in small print stating that none of the ‘educational specimens’ were taken for the purpose of sale but rather were the result of by-catch from allegedly legitimate fishing operations.
Using the close-up photo of the Hammerhead in the advertisement species identification was made indicating this bottled shark is a Scalloped Hammerhead.Scalloped Hammerhead sharks are considered the most abundant of the eight species of Hammerheads.They are found in seas around the world as well as brackish waters along rivers and estuaries. The overall population of Scalloped Hammerheads is not known; however, what is known is that the juveniles of both the Scalloped Hammerheads and Bull sharks are always found in very shallow coastal water nurseries.And, Bull sharks are currently considered a threatened species by marine scientists.
Tragically, for these bottled sharks, their nurseries make them easy prey for soulless fortune hunters with a backyard shop and easily obtained pickling bottles.The disclaimer stating these sharks are merely by-catch used for purposes of education was obviously written by someone with little knowledge and even less concern for the decimation of our oceans and marine life.
These bottled marine animals are touted as educational. The octopus is an animal with eyes as complex as the human eye and a brain capable of solving problems, and with long and short-term memories.Sharks have lived in the seas for hundreds of millions of years, long before the time of the dinosaurs.
Are we now to believe that our education on the marine environment must be relegated to a jar of “ocean blue water…” containing a dead animal that will never reproduce and will ultimately lead to the extinction of its species.That the magnificent octopi, colorful squid, and the ancient sharks are simply throw-a-ways, can’t-be-helped, by-catch of the seas?