Eaten to Extinction

Eaten to Extinction

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In downtown Reykjavik, a number of eating places catering to vacationers provide whale meat. Perhaps they discover the concept of doing one thing that’s unlawful again residence tempting. Perhaps they consider consuming whale is a conventional Icelandic expertise. Whatever their reasoning, many vacationers will select to eat whale steak throughout their Iceland trip.

But the surroundings is international, and whether or not you’re performing at residence or overseas, what you buy and what you eat could make a distinction for endangered and threatened species.

Whale Meat

Icelandic whalers hunt each the endangered fin whale and the minke whale. It’s the minke that often exhibits up on menus. Although this species’ inhabitants is probably the most secure of any nice whale, it’s nonetheless listed below the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

endangered fin whale
Icelandic whalers nonetheless hunt the endangered fin whale, pictured on this picture, however the nation has introduced it is going to finish whale searching in 2024. Photo credit score: Aqqa Rosing-Asvid – Visit Greenland [CC BY 2.0], Wikimedia Commons

Statistics are laborious to seek out on how a lot of Iceland’s whale meat vacationers eat. But if some locals defend whaling politically, most don’t have much of a taste for the meat. According to at least one ballot, just one.7% of Icelanders eat whale meat no less than month-to-month. The rise of responsible tourism could have contributed to the 2022 announcement that Iceland will end commercial whale hunting in 2024.

minke whale meat
The mostly served whale meat is from the minke whale. The minke whale is listed below CITES. Photo credit score: The nice huge fish within the sky [CC0], Wikimedia Commons

Softshell Turtles

The information will not be all the time so optimistic. In April 2019, the last known female Yangtze big softshell turtle died in a zoo in Suzhou, China. Once plentiful, softshell turtles, like many different turtle species, are prized as meals. Habitat loss and overharvesting have pushed the species to the brink of virtually sure extinction.

critically endangered Yangtze giant softshell turtle
Prized as meals, the critically endangered Yangtze big softshell turtle has nearly been eaten to extinction. Photo credit score: Phuongcacanh at Vietnamese Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons

Females should exist within the wild. But it has been a number of years since Chinese scientists had a confirmed sighting of a wild Yangtze big softshell turtle. In that case, the specimen was eaten earlier than the scientists might arrive on the scene.

A Global Problem

Chinese giant salamander
Also practically eaten to extinction, the Chinese big salamander is now critically endangered. Photo credit score: Petr Hamerník [CC BY-SA 4.0], Wikimedia Commons

Turtles usually are not the one species eaten to extinction. In 2016 an Oxford University professor compiled a listing of 301 land mammal species threatened with extinction by human culinary habits. Limited to mammals, that checklist doesn’t embody a number of the creatures most affected by the marketplace for unique meals, together with the Chinese big salamander, Beluga sturgeon, and European eels. Thanks to CITES, most of those species won’t be out there on the market within the U.S. But vacationers ought to know that simply because one thing is on the menu, it’s not all the time moral — or authorized — to eat it.

Feature picture: critically endangered Beluga sturgeon, picture credit score: Максим Яковлєв [CC BY-SA 4.0], Wikimedia Commons. Originally printed on August 9, 2019, this text was up to date in August 2022.