We are only a few days away from one of the most loathsome weeks for surfers. A week of nightly TV that most of us salty, nasal drippers do everything to avoid. It happens every summer, that one week where the fun vibe in the lineup gets a bit frosty and sketchy; where freaky thoughts about oversized fish with multiple rows of sharp teeth swim through our collective domes.
It’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel. Oh, how I love this freakin’ week…
Most hardcore surfers are brought up to not talk about sharks… and if we do… we stick to code like “did you see Fluffy out there today” or “ watch out for the men in the grey suits.” The prevailing thought process is: if we don’t acknowledge them, they don’t exist. Yet, we know the truth, these aquatic “Boogie Men” do exist and they are an essential part of our most coveted playground’s ecosystem. Sadly, one-quarter of all shark species are officially threatened by extinction.
There are many reasons why shark numbers are declining across our planet’s oceans. Pollution, accidental bycatch in commercial fishing lines and the overfishing of sharks for meat and finning all play a role. In short, our oily fingerprints are all over the leading causes for their diminishing digits.
And, we might as well add another Homo Sapien fault for our toothy compadres decline; our vain attempt to keep the aging process at bay by smearing on beauty products harvested from sharks. Yup, let me introduce you to one of the cosmetic industry’s darkest secrets, Squalene – a natural oil produced by our oil glands to hydrate and maintain our skin. Yes, Squalene – a hydrating oil found in the livers of sharks that has led to the death of millions of sharks every year. It is a common ingredient found in lipstick, sunscreen, eye shadow, lotion and make-up foundation. It is a popular addition to anti-aging creams. You can even find – shark harvested Squalene – in hair products.
Around 2.7 million sharks are killed annually by the cosmetic industry for Squalene. Oh Dios mío!
The odds of getting chomped on by a shark are about 1 in 3.75 million, but the odds of there being shark Squalene in the suntan lotion you recently caked on are much, much lower. Here we are, fretting about sharky encounters, while we are smothered in the essence of sharky extinction.
Here’s the real chuminess of this, Squalane “can be naturally found in many plants such as: olives, sugarcane, rice bran, yeasts and wheat germ. The key issue is that plant-derived squalene is 30% more expensive to produce than animal squalene.”
The truth is, sharks predate the dinosaurs by 200 million years, but our neglect for this planet, our contempt for the oceans, our ugly vanity is killing sharks quicker than they can dine upon us.