You might be thinking, “but I don’t eat shark fin soup so how could I possibly be supporting shark fishing”?
Many people don’t realize their cosmetics and other products contain shark-derived ingredients and they may be deceived at restaurants who have shark meat in their food but they are hidden under different names. Education is a pillar for change and you can’t make change or slow down the demand for sharks unless you know, right?
List courtesy of Sharkwater
One of the most important things to me that I want to emphasize is shark liver oil (squalene or squalene).
I had a follower of mine on Instagram message me stating that she saw a beauty influencer stating this was her favorite ingredient in her cosmetics. I couldn’t believe it so I went digging and low and behold, it was true. Little did that influencer, with thousands of followers, know what she was doing by promoting this ingredient. Of course I messaged her (kindly) to help her understand facts about this ingredient and how to help educate her followers about it instead of blindly encouraging her audience to look for this ingredient in their products as something they wanted without even understanding where it comes from.
Squalene/squalane is an oil that is (traditionally) derived from the shark’s liver and is used in cosmetic products, vaccines and supplements. Most people have no idea this ingredient exists in their products. Squalene also has some industrial uses in lubricants and cleaning agents. Some companies are now deriving squalane from plants like olives and rice bran so it’s really important to know the difference and to ask where it was derived from. One of my favorite companies, Biossance is an amazing example of this by providing a mega-moisturizing molecule that is 100% plant-derived squalene sustainably from sugarcane. We love a sustainably responsible brand! I will be talking more about squalene and squalane in a future blog post.
The most shocking thing to me was finding out that I was consuming shark meat without even knowing it because sometimes, it’s advertised under hidden names. Why that matters? Well, shark is really high in mercury (no thank you) and I do not want to be part of killing the ocean. This is a list of names that could actually indicate shark in restaurants and pet food (courtesy of Sharkwater and I added a few as well):
I hope that by reading this, you will continue being or become a more aware/conscious consumer before purchasing a product or eating fish. Simply asking, “what kind of fish is this?” and “where did it come from?” can help you make sure you’re not eating shark. There’s a lot to dive into on how eating fish that was caught through unsustainable fishing practices also contributes to the death of sharks but we will dive into that in another blog post coming soon! In the meantime, if you find a restaurant or company that uses shark-derived products/ingredients and you want to encourage them to change their practices or be more sustainable, send them this letter.
I'm Tay, a photographer and educator based in Hawaii. My passions are sharing stories of love, from couples to adventure elopements. And I am also an underwater and brand photographer with a heart for creating impact.
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