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Sharks Used To Smuggle Cocaine

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Contributor:
Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

Some Mexicans recently got busted in Costa Rica smuggling cocaine in sharks… 894 kilos. I can sort of see the logic. Who goes poking through smelly fish guts on the off-chance there’s a spot of cocaine in there? No one.

But here’s the thing…

Recently I stumbled home from work, found a biscuit, rolled onto the couch, and flicked on the telly. “Sharkwater”. If you haven’t seen it, then you must. Immediately if not sooner.
 
It’s like a Steven Sigal movie. Battling shark poachers throughout Central America, the stars are attacked by pirates, caught up in gunboat chases, corruption, mafia espionage, attempted murder charges, and then the hero gets flesh eating disease (of course). 
 
But this is a documentary and all the details are quite depressingly true. Sharks are being poached for their fins. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry because in Asia the fins are sold for their undisputed MAGICAL POWERS! Once caught, the fins are cut off the shark, the shark is thrown back into the water, where it cannot swim, it sinks to the bottom of the sea and is eaten alive by other fish or worse. 
 
Ever been told “drugs are bad”? That statements about as useful as being told “shark finning threatens the stability of marine ecosystems.” Maybe it’s true, but it’s nice and vague and could mean a number of things, so we shrug it off, light one up, mutilate some sharks, stuff them full of cocaine, do a few lines in between, then go watch the soccer game, drink beer and wonder what the Mrs is cooking for tea. (Seriously, that’s what some people do in their weekends). So I did some research to find out more about this “threatening the eco-system” rabble. 
 
Here's the deal: Many fish and sea mammals - sharks included - survive by eating plankton. There are two types of plankton: the plant form and the animal form (e.g. the little guy on Sponge Bob Square Pants is the animal form). Sharks eat the animal form, and the animal form of plankton eats the plant plankton (cue Elton John singing "The Circle of Life" here).
 
The plant form absorbs carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen - very handy considering this wee process is thought to have created our oxygen atmosphere - so we pretty much owe life as we know it - and it's balance - to plankton. Now that we’re busily obliterating sharks (and other fish) into extinction, the population of animal plankton can grow unchecked, allowing them to consume more and more plant plankton. And what does this do? Increases the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere... and we're told it's what we do on land that causes global warming. 
 
“Sharkwater” has now won 31 international awards… and I have also developed a minor crush on Rob Stewart, the swashbuckling young hero of the doco. For the record, he is way better looking than Steven Sigal.  Plus, he overcame flesh eating disease (swoon!) in time to save the day (sort of) and swim with the sharks once more in his tight little black Speedos!
 
Sharks used to smuggle cocaine? Why sharks? Ever since Jaws those guys have been going through enough. (I blame the scary soundtrack because the giant robot shark was sort of lame).
 
If we're half as intelligent as sharks, maybe we'll learn to look underneath the surface of things and go a little deeper. When we stop taking into consideration what the ocean is doing for us, then we immediately know half as much about the world as we thought we did. 
 
 
 

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