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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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sharks include many edible species, of which the best known are treated under angel shark, dogfish, hammerhead shark, and porbeagle. This entry deals with them in a general way, briefly describing some of their characteristics.

Sharks are not necessarily large; nor are they all dangerous. Some of the dogfish are quite small, and some big sharks are inoffensive. But in general they are large and voracious fish. Like the ray and skate and the sturgeon, they differ from the majority of fish in having no true bones. Instead they have a cartilaginous skeleton. In this respect they are a survival from the very distant past and count as ‘primitive’ fish; the fish with proper bones are a more recent development. Despite being primitive creatures in this sense, sharks have proved to be highly successful survivors. There are a lot of them. The FAO survey Sharks of the World (Compagno, 1984) is in two large volumes. The author states that approximately 350 species of living sharks are currently known. He adds that about 48 per cent of these are to his knowledge of no use to fisheries; 25 per cent are of limited use; 20 per cent are of considerable importance; and 7 per cent are major fisheries species.