Ghosts and Gills- Frankenfish

posted by Veronique Koch on 28 October 2013

Only a few days left until Hallowe’en! Are there any fishy disguises in your future? Today’s creepy critter could be interpreted two ways: a crazy one-off mixed up fish or an Orwellian future of seafood. Both are pretty scary to us.

Today’s Ghosts and Gills is about… the Frankenfish. We all know Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, the story of a doctor who goes too far to create life and engineers a scary monster. That moment when the monster awakens with a moan and stiffly sits up is enough to make the hairs go up on the backs of our necks.

One weird goldfish

Our first monster fish story was in the news a year ago when an angler in Cambridge, England caught a carp that appeared to be made of the head of a roach, the body and tail of a brown goldfish and the caudal fin of a bream. Experts have chalked it up to being a hybrid between a fantail goldfish and a common goldfish, but we can’t be sure since the angler threw the fish back into the water. (We guess that even Frankenfish deserve proper catch and release.)

GMO fish: today’s monsters?

Our second story is a little more somber than the first. In the coming weeks, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to approve the sale of the first genetically modified animal, GMO (genetically modified organism) salmon. This salmon is a mix between an eel-like fish called an ocean pout and two types of salmon is marketed by Aquabounty as AquAdvantage fish. The genetically engineered fish grows much faster than regular farmed salmon. Aquabounty is also proud of their “environmentally sustainable” standards since they are using land-based farms (so no pollution to outside water sources) and are keeping their carbon footprint small by situating themselves near large markets. GMO salmon obviously a very controversial venture and there are still questions about the long term impacts on human health and the environment. For now it is unclear as to whether Aquabounty will obtain the approval of the FDA or whether they will have to label their product if they do get the green light. And all these uncertainties are very scary indeed.

Frankenfish salmon?

Would you eat a Frankenfish? Comment below, please!

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