Skeptical David is skeptical of new efforts to de-extinct the smalltooth sawfish
On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.
Over Christmas, I finally got to tour the Ram Myers Center for Ocean Biodiversity Restoration captive breeding facility. The millions of gallons of saltwater tanks and the state of the art husbandry and genetics labs look like something out of Jurassic Park. The building itself is almost as impressive as the list of heavy-hitters who work for or consult with the Center, and they’ve had undeniable success with temperature-resistant reef-building corals and pH resistant shellfish and phytoplankton that can survive in our increasingly warm and acidified seas.
I was there to investigate their recently-announced efforts to de-extinct smalltooth sawfish by releasing captive-bred animals into the Everglades and the Bahamas. Once found as north as New York and as west as Texas, habitat destruction and bycatch caused these amazing animals’ range to shrink to one small part of South Florida by the late 1990’s. In the early 2000’s they became the first elasmobranch to be listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and in 2027, they were sadly declared extinct in the wild. In the interest of transparency, I should say that I started my tour skeptical of the Center’s plans to de-extinct smalltooth sawfish, and my opinion remains the same after further investigation. Read More