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ArticlesFeatured Columnist : Georges Corner

Soupfin

Here is an interesting story. There is a shark along our coast called a soupfin. Before the 1940's they were taken in moderate numbers, their fins dried and sent to Asia to be used in, you guessed it, soup. In 1937 it was discovered that soupfin livers contained astronomical amounts of vitamin A; it was one of the richest sources of that vitamin known. Larger sharks had more vitamin A per weight of liver than did smaller sharks. By 1939, most of the commercial vessels on the Pacific Coast able to handle gillnets and set lines were off California, searching for soupies. With the onset of World War II other sources of vitamin A dried up and soupie livers became really valuable. Prices for this shark reached $2000. per ton (about $50. per fish), in a time when a house could be bought for $2000. With the end of the war and the synthesis of vitamin A, the boom declined and soupie populations have made something of a recovery. Currently most are caught by gillnet and marketed fresh and frozen, as fillets and steaks. Soupfin are identified best by the large, sharply- defined upper section of the upper lobe of the caudal fin (tail) This deeply- indented lobe is about one-half the length of the upper lobe. Males have been reported to 6 feet, females to 6.5 feet. The white sea bass fishermen catch them randomly around the squid schools at Catalina Island.

This story was taken from the book "Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast" by Milton Love. 

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