A group of scientists, led by Kyle Van Houtan with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, asked “what did ocean ecosystems look like in the past?” Specifically the scientists wanted to know what the ocean ecosystem around the Hawaiian Islands was like in the past. And what long-term changes had occurred.
Dr. Chapman takes a DNA sample from a nearly 15-ft blunt nose six-gill shark in the Bahamas. Photo by Sean Williams, Cape Eleuthera Institute. Blog by Dr. Demian Chapman, shark geneticist and Blue Ocean Fellow: When I first started studying sharks in the mid 1990s, they were already in serious trouble and there was no reprieve in sight. The Chinese economy was booming and with this boom had grown a new middle class with an insatiable demand for luxury products. One such product was shark fin soup, a $100-a-bowl appetizer served at special events like weddings, banquets and business dinners.
For nearly all of human history, people have been hunter-gatherers. Agriculture has been a very recent development. On land, domestication dominates our food system—cows, chickens, pigs, and vegetables that we have greatly changed from their wild progenitors. Yet when it comes to food from the sea, hunter-gatherers have continued to dominate, right through to the industrialized present. But that’s about to change. For a wild-fish lover like me—and likely you, too—this passing of an ancient era may be a little disappointing.