Total Pageviews

Thursday, March 1, 2012

CAN THE WHALE SHARK REPLACE CATTLE?


Beef is becoming a symbol of extravagance, as it takes 20 pounds of corn to make one pound of steak. Is there a possible replacement?  What about the whale shark?

I've always been fascinated with this shark, or fish, not a whale, nor mammal.  I've been to the Osaka Aquarium (below) several times:


Four are in the Georgia Aquarium:



My first real connection with the whale shark was in discussions with National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung (Taiwan, photo above) regarding various possible species to be considered for our ultimate ocean ranch.  We needed a fish that fed at the lowest possible trophic level, and whale sharks consume plankton.  With limited original nutrients, you should be able to produce a thousand times (and perhaps 10,000, for each level to the left means a factor of ten more) of a fish that consumes at the lowest level (tilapia, whale shark) compared to one that is at the highest (marlin, etc.)

In our early studies, we determined that any red fish commanded a higher price, so a red tilapia (right) made sense.  While this pathway should also be explored, that is for another day, as today I wish to suggest something creatively outrageous.


One particularly exciting discovery was that we found that as many as 300 pups can be born (probably a foot or two at birth) so, when you compare this productivity with cattle, where the average is just about one/female/year, you can imagine the potential of this fish, if it tastes good and there is public acceptance (there is this mentality today that we should only conserve, not consume, large fish).  Anyway, while this sounds morbid, the objective would be to harvest at the age of one, but this is no more aberrant than veal or lamb.  This particular pup in the Philippines (Donsol) was kept on a leash and placed for sale:

However, the local government rescued and released it, for the whale shark is now a major tourist attraction for this region.  95% of visitors actually get to interact with whale sharks.

This largest of fish can grow to sizes longer than 40 feet (witnesses have supposedly seen huge ones up to 70 feet) and live up to 150 years.  This behemoth caught off Taiwan in 1994 weighed 79,000 pounds:


No human has ever been swallowed by a whale shark, mostly because its esophagus is only 3 inches in diameter.  This photo was credited to have been taken off Kona, Big Island of Hawaii:


Someday, perhaps, the Blue Revolution Restaurant will feature whale shark steaks, for they should be low in mercury, high in omega-3 fatty acids, of relative low cost and an exemplar of sustainable protein.  Look for this special on the Pacific International Ocean Station.

-
The Dow Jones Industrials rose 28 to 12,980, with major world markets also all up.  Gold recovered, +$8 to $1719/toz.  The WTI Cushing is up to $109/barrel, while the Brent Spot is at $126/barrel.

-

No comments: