Crave coquilles St. Jacques ? Lovers of that baby seal of the shellfish world, the blue-eyed scallop, had better go easy on the shark fin soup, suggests a Science study by Ransom A. Myers et al of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It documents the cascading effects of top predator loss on a marine ecosystem. In this big fish-little fish story, absent the large sharks , the smaller bottom feeding sharks, skates and rays multiply, and gobble up all the scrumptious shellfish before scallopers can.. 1/30th of our friend, Argopecten Purpuratus
The study focuses on one of these middle links in the food chain, the cownose ray, that growing abundant for lack of predation, has wiped out scallop beds in North Carolina.“People are always asking me why we should care about sharks,” said Ellen Pikitch,executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, who described the Science paper as a “classic,” in the search of similar effects, called trophic cascades.
Full disclosure : Having been zapped by a woefully unpredated 300 volt Torpedo ray in Vineyard Sound , I propose the Commonwealth cut Jaws a plea bargain if he'll lay off Massachusetts scallop divers and go after the Great Whitey Bulger instead.