What Happens to Shark Teeth?
SEA LIFE send shed shark teeth to Pitcairn Island to help conserve local population
Pitcairn Island, famous refuge of the Bounty mutineers, has become the unlikely destination for hundreds of shark teeth collected from the ocean displays at SEA LIFE Blackpool and Manchester.
There are four islands in the Pitcairn group spread across hundreds of miles of ocean in the south Pacific but only the main one, Pitcairn itself, is populated by 50 decedents of the nine mutineers who landed there after defying the infamous Captain Bligh of His Majesty’s Armed Vessel ‘Bounty’ in 1789.
The present-day members of these families depend heavily on tourists from the six or seven cruise ships that visit every year for their livelihoods. Locals sell home-crafted souvenirs to the tourists, with wood-carvings of sharks amongst the best sellers.
Until now, the islanders have fished for juvenile sharks around the island, extracting over 600 teeth a year to glue into the mouths of their carvings, to give them extra appeal to passing tourists.
SEA LIFE Manchester and Blackpool have committed to send the teeth discarded by the resident sharks for use in the carvings to help protect the juvenile shark population. Sharks continually shed their teeth, with blacktip reef shark in particular shedding a whole row of over 40 teeth every month. The teeth are then collected from the tank bed by SEA LIFE staff and sent over to Pitcairn.