AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: shark

Do you really want to eat Sharks?

In a recent study at the University of Miami, scientists found high concentrations of toxins in shark fins and cartilage. These toxins have been very closely linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Therefore, the research team suggests that restriction for shark consumption will benefit the consumer’s health and for shark conservation.

Deborah Mash, Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study at the University of Miami, conducted a study to show the concentration of toxins found in a sample of sharks. Fins and muscle tissues were collected from 10 shark species found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The samples were then found to have concentrations of two toxins, Mercury and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). Such toxins on their own pose a health risk, but together it can have a synergistic toxic impact.

Sharks have been known to live in the higher stages of the food web. Therefore, these water creatures have had a longer life span than other creatures in the water. As a result, sharks accumulate and concentrate toxins. This can be quite deadly for the human population as more and more people are in demand for shark parts.

In Asia and and globally in Asian communities, shark products have been used in many food selections. Shark fins, cartilage, and meat are used as a delicacy and as a source of traditional Chinese medicine. Therefore, 16% of the world’s shark species have been threatened with extinction.

“Our results suggest that humans who consume shark parts may be at a risk for developing neurological diseases.” said Mash. Limiting the consumption of sharks will provide health benefits and a positive conservation outcome for sharks.

So before you order the shark fin soup from the menu, think about how your health could be affected. Think about the endangered sharks in our oceans. Let’s do it for the sharks!


Sharks prove evolution; hybrid shark.

Photo taken by "warrenski"

Sharks are just adding to their long list of impressive abilities. They are amazingly immune and can help cure cancer, they can be a cyclopes, and now they are proving evolution.

The world’s first hybrid shark has been discovered in Austrian waters. The shark is a cross of an Australian Blacktip shark and a Common Blacktip shark. Common Blacktip sharks are found in the Atlantic Ocean. This discovery displays the animals fight for existence; overfishing and pollution have reduced shark populations in general all over the globe. The adaptation of this new hybrid allows the animal to survive in cooler water temperatures, previously intolerant for species. Scientist believe the sharks are “adapting to cope” with global warming and changing water temperatures.  This adaptation and creation of a hybrid creature is evolution. This discovery proves that evolution is no longer a theory but is happening right now.

The new hybrid species has many generations under it’s belt, displaying its ability to reproduce. The species will have to be further studied before comparing their life to that of their parents. This discovery also opens the door to the discovery of other species crossbreeding or evolving as well.

Photo of Common Blacktip Shark:



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