Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.
Dr Reese Halter’s upcoming book is
The pharmaceutical gold rush to invent an antidote for the highly infectious airborne coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has set its sights on devouring the most perfect fish to swim the seas: the shark.
Some of the 176 coronavirus vaccine trials are using an oily animal hydrocarbon found in deepsea shark livers called squalene. Squalene is believed to improve the human response of the antigen (toxin) within the dose.
Pharmaceutical companies are in search of endangered great white, hammerhead, Greenland and whale sharks because their livers are large and contain copious quantities of squalene, which the fish use for buoyancy.
If eight billion people were inoculated with vaccines containing shark squalene then almost a quarter of million large, masterpiece sharks would be decimated. Some pundits have predicted that each human may require two immunizations, hence ~500,000 endangered glorious sharks would be hunted, tortured and slain.
But hold on a minute. Are sharks the only plentiful source of squalene on the blue planet? No. Plants to the rescue, again. Olives, sugarcane, grape seeds, peanuts, corn and others all contain squalene. The plants that are the richest in squalene hail from the genus Amaranthus, with about 75 species spread generously across six of the eight planetary continents. Their seeds are dripping with squalene, which is easily and affordably extractable.
Each day on Earth there is more man-created pain, loss of old-growth forests and coral reefs, and fewer of our brethren and sistren, the animals. The indisputable fact is that humans need everything in nature that surrounds us. Nature, on the other hand, does not need humankind.
The late conservationist and filmmaker, Rob Stewart, estimated since the dawning of the 21st century, man has slaughtered two billion sharks (100 million annually). Some species have been depleted by more than 90 percent.
Transnational crime is marauding the sea and looting sharks to supply the insatiable global demand for shark fin soup. In addition, these and other planet-killers are concealing their untaxed, ill-gotten gains from nature within concrete monstrosities (skyscrapers) dotting the central business districts of every major city. By the way, from 2000 to 2011, crooks, corruption and fishery longlines have hauled in a staggering $3,783,386,000 in shark fins and $2.6 billion in shark meat, as estimated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, State of the Global Market for Shark Products report.
Sharks have miraculously survived the last four mass extinctions. Sharks are doomed by the man-driven accelerating Sixth Mass Extinction, which is wrenching them out of the ocean and off the planet. Most shark species are apex predators. They reach reproductive maturity slowly. Prior to man’s rampage, sharks lived long lives and self-regulated their populations. Sharks also keep populations of their prey fit by culling the old, weak and infirm.
Sharks play another fascinating ecological role which benefits all planetary life. These splendid finned gatekeepers protect the sprawling blue carbon stored within the sea grass, salt marsh and mangrove sediments (~27.5 billion tons).
Fisheries have emptied the oceans and irreparably harmed its capacity to hold carbon, a natural climate solution. Overfishing of sharks has resulted in unnaturally high numbers of small marine grazers, which, in turn, have overgrazed the shoreline vegetation and begun to reduce some of the blue carbon reserves. If just one percent of the vegetation that sharks defend goes missing, 507 million tons of CO2 would be released (the equivalent annual emissions of 97 million automobiles, or, ~9 percent of the global combustion fleet). “Once you remove large ocean predators you get strange indirect impacts. There’s a meltdown in the ecosystem that influences the release of carbon, said oceanographer Dr Peter Macreadie, Deakin University, Australia.
The more sharks that man brutally kills, the greater the chance that the Gen Zs (under 26 year olds) will be unable to survive on their only home. Massacring sharks and endangered horseshoe crabs won’t save the Gen Zs because we have entered into the Age of Pandemics. Protecting Earth’s biodiversity and all the remaining coral reefs and old-growth forests is THE key to the Gen Zs survival.
Nature is the source, not a resource. Every shark is priceless and so worthy of our total protection. There is ample plant squalene to make coronavirus vaccines.
Please support the robust shark conservation work of our friends at Sea Shepherd Australia, Living Ocean and Shark Allies.
It’s long overdue to end all fisheries and embrace healthy, nutritious, whole food plant-based diets. We have the seeds, the soil building and carbon retaining knowledge. We have the Gen Z labor force and available arable land. “Pitter patter, let’s get at’er!”
* The authors comments are his own and Living Ocean offers no responsability for any information or intent expressed in the blog.