Updated: May 24
Today kicks off Shark Week, my favorite week of the year.
Yes, some of the shows can be cheesy, but the point of Shark Week is to educate and entertain. There is much to be studied, admired, and respected within the ecosystem of our oceans, just like on land. Sharks are one of the most impressive examples of survival throughout the planet's history. Unfortunately, sharks are in danger of extinction due to humans hunting them for profit.
Did you know? It's estimated that more than 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year.
Now I'd like to bring your attention of some of the ways sharks are used in products you may have in your home right now.
Squalene is a natural moisturizer, an oil produced naturally from the sebaceous glands in our skin. As we age, production slows down. Though squalene is also present in plant sources, it was notoriously sourced from shark liver. Squalene is then hydrogenated to become squalane before it is added to products like makeup, sunscreen, deodorant, lip balm, cleansers, and lotions. Many companies have turned to plant sources for squalane, so when shopping for any products where squalane is present, make sure it is 100% vegan.
Medicines & Supplements
Pretty self-explanatory, shark liver oil is an oil derived from shark liver and a source of squalene mentioned above. It is claimed that shark liver oil is beneficial as a relief or treatment for many medical issues ranging from cold and flu, to more serious diseases and cancers. However, there is insufficient evidence to support this. In fact, shark liver oil has not even really been tested to determine the safe dosage for humans and long term negative effects. Be on the look out for shark liver oil or chondroitin (cartilage) in any supplements and medications you buy. Instead, buy vegan supplements sourced from plants.
If it lives and breathes, humans have probably tried to make an accessory out of it (Ed Gein anyone?). Shark skin has been used as a leather to make boots, wallets, purses, and more. It's pretty easy to steer clear of purchasing these items. Jewelry and souvenirs made of shark teeth are also available for sale - just don't buy these things.
This one is pretty obvious. Usually shark fin soup is the first thing that comes to mind, but there are other foods out there that might contain shark, such as white fish fillets and patties, imitation crab/shrimp, and even dog food. This shouldn't be an issue if you're already vegan, but if you are transitioning, keep this one in mind.
Shark skin is also used to make Shagreen, which is used as a luxury textile for home decor. Again, it is pretty easy to steer clear of decor made of shark skin. Historically, it was also used as sandpaper, though that seems to be a thing of the past.