Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Cousseau, B. and Perrotta, R.G. / Fishbase.org
"We found that in fish that do have temperature-dependent sex determination [TSD], a rise in water temperature of just 1.5 degrees Celsius can change the male-to-female ratio from 1:1 to 3:1," says Piferrer, the study's co-author. In especially sensitive fish, a greater increase can throw the balance even more out of whack. Ospina-Alvarez and Piferrer have found that in the South American pejerrey, for example, an increase of 4 degrees Celsius can result in a population that is 98% male.
What makes these findings especially troubling, of course, is that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that ocean-water temperatures are likely to rise by 1.5 degrees over the course of this century — and they may even go up a few degrees more. "If climate change really does result in a rise of 4 degrees, which is the maximum the IPCC predicts, and if species can't adapt in time or migrate, then in the most sensitive cases of TSD, we're looking at extinction," says Piferrer.
Most research into fish sex determination has been done in the lab (for obvious reasons), but the pejerrey is one of the few species that scientists have been able to study in the field. And those studies have revealed that already, its proportion of males to females is skewed. "It could be because of chemical pollution or it could be because of climate change. We don't know," cautions Piferrer. "But the field data matches our predictions."
At this stage, it is hard to tell what these results bode for already declining fish populations around the world. Of the estimated 33,000 piscatorial species, only 5,000 have had their sex-determination mechanism affirmed. But the study by the two CSIC scientists also suggests that the percentage of TSD fish is lower than previously believed. In tests of 59 species believed to be reproductively sensitive to temperature, only 40 proved to be true TSDs.
That would be good news in this grim era of climate change if it weren't for one factor: even genotypic sex determination can be affected by anomalous conditions, including anomalous temperature. "Basically, if you freeze it or cook it enough," says Piferrer, "you can get whatever sex you want."
Monday, July 21, 2008
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- Ready for the latest in spa pampering? Prepare to dunk your tootsies in a tank of water and let tiny carp nibble away.
Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the D.C. area, where a northern Virginia spa has been offering them for the past four months. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, said 5,000 people have taken the plunge so far.
"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," Ho said.
He said he wanted to come up with something unique while finding a replacement for pedicures that use razors to scrape off dead skin. The razors have fallen out of favor with state regulators because of concerns about whether they're sanitary.
Ho was skeptical at first about the fish, which are called garra rufa but typically known as doctor fish. They were first used in Turkey and have become popular in some Asian countries.
But Ho doubted they would thrive in the warm water needed for a comfortable footbath. And he didn't know if customers would like the idea.
"I know people were a little intimidated at first," Ho said. "But I just said, 'Let's give it a shot.' "
Customers were quickly hooked.
Tracy Roberts, 33, of Rockville, Md., heard about it on a local radio show. She said it was "the best pedicure I ever had" and has spread the word to friends and co-workers.
"I'd been an athlete all my life, so I've always had calluses on my feet. This was the first time somebody got rid of my calluses completely," she said.
First time customer KaNin Reese, 32, of Washington, described the tingling sensation created by the toothless fish: "It kind of feels like your foot's asleep," she said.
The fish don't do the job alone. After 15 to 30 minutes in the tank, customers get a standard pedicure, made easier by the soft skin the doctor fish leave behind.
Ho believes his is the only salon in the country to offer the treatment, which costs $35 for 15 minutes and $50 for 30 minutes. The spa has more than 1,000 fish, with about 100 in each individual pedicure tank at any given time.
Dennis Arnold, a podiatrist who four years ago established the International Pedicure Association, said he had never heard of the treatment and doubts it will become widespread.
"I think most people would be afraid of it," he said.
Customer Patsy Fisher, 42, of Crofton, Md., admitted she was nervous as she prepared for her first fish pedicure. But her apprehension dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes.
"It's a little ticklish, actually," she said.
Ho said the hot water in which the fish thrive doesn't support much plant or aquatic life, so they learned to feed on whatever food sources were available - including dead, flaking skin. They leave live skin alone because, without teeth, they can't bite it off.
In addition to offering pedicures, Ho hopes to establish a network of Doctor Fish Massage franchises and is evaluating a full-body fish treatment that, among other things, could treat psoriasis and other skin ailments.
Ho spent a year and about $40,000 getting the pedicures up and running, with a few hiccups along the way.
State regulations make no provision for regulating fish pedicures. But the county health department - which does regulate pools - required the salon to switch from a shallow, tiled communal pool that served as many as eight people to individual tanks in which the water is changed for each customer.
The communal pool also presented its own problem: At times the fish would flock to the feet of an individual with a surplus of dead skin, leaving others with a dearth of fish.
"It would sometimes be embarrassing for them but it was also really hilarious," Ho said.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
View video here!!!
What makes a fish kosher, you say? Fins and scales. Everyone knows that. But very few people know that some scaled fish are as non-kosher as lobster! (See below to find out why.)
OU Kosher, as part of its ever-widening program of kashrut education, announced today the release of a new 30-minute DVD: “The Kosher Fish Primer – The Secrets Revealed,” featuring Rabbi Chaim Goldberg, an OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator who travels the world certifying fish as kosher. In his engaging manner, Rabbi Goldberg will delight audiences from young elementary school children to adults, as he explores the various issues the kosher consumer must consider when buying fish. Rabbi Goldberg doesn’t perform alone – fish are featured in the DVD as well. The recording is excellent for classroom and synagogue presentations.
Rabbi Goldberg, who received rabbinical ordination at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, NY, has directed the Kosher Fish Desk at the OU for six years. Rabbi Goldberg's "fish-finding missions" for the OU have taken him to Alaska, Chile, British Columbia, Peru, Colombia, Trinidad and Iceland. When he closes his tackle box, Rabbi Goldberg returns to Brooklyn, where he resides with his wife and three children (but as he states, “no fish tank, yet”).
The DVD covers:
· The textbook definition of kosher fish;
· Pre-empting some potential misunderstandings about kosher fish (why one cannot rely on fish lists or other identifications of fish by common name);
· The potential Torah and rabbinic prohibitions relating to fish;
· An explanation of how to identify a kosher fish;
· A hands-on demonstration of how to identify a kosher fish yourself; and
· A quick tutorial on how to buy kosher fish from any fish store – even if it is not kosher certified.
“The presentation is titled ‘The Kosher Fish Primer’ to indicate that we are in no way claiming to have covered every topic worth teaching about kosher fish, but rather as a thorough introduction to more advanced study, depending on the level of the students,” Rabbi Goldberg explained. “We hope that after viewing this DVD, the viewer will be a properly informed fish consumer, who will be able to buy fish wherever in the world one travels.”
The new DVD is the latest in a series of initiatives of OU Kosher’s educational outreach. This outreach includes programs such as “OU Kosher Coming,” which sends OU experts to schools, synagogues and campuses to share their knowledge of Jewish law and food technology; it features as well as the “Kosher Tidbits” web series, consisting of more than 100 short seminars on innumerable aspects of kashrut, and available on http://www.ouradio.org/. The “Kosher Kidz” video has been sent to yeshivot and day schools throughout North America to provide a basic understanding of what makes food kosher, with the production of kosher ice cream as the example.
Now, about that non-kosher fish with scales. Some fish have scales which cannot be removed from the fish without ripping the skin (like some sharks and eels). These fish are not kosher, as Rabbi Goldberg explains.
The video can be obtained from OU Kosher by contacting Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, OU Kosher Senior Rabbinic Coordinator and Vice President of Communications and Marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Sea lice from young wild salmon. Photo by Alexandra Morton
Question: Does illness affect kosher status of fish?
Answer: In short - absolutely not!
Illness does not affect kosher status of any fish, which is determined exclusively by the presence (or absense) of "kosher scales", namely scales which can be removed from the fish without ripping the skin.
The question came up because of a recent NY Times story here about Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) . While in animals and birds there IS a concern about disease, there is no such limitation found in salmon.
Now, for the long(er) version:
"The practice of aquaculture is not without negative impacts. The harmful consequences and risks associated with aquaculture can be broken down into the three subcategories below. They are: risks to the farmed fish themselves; risks to the surrounding environment and organisms; and risks to the human population. "
This quote is from: Duke University's Biology dept, whose cite can be found here. They know more about the effect on people than me, so read up!
To the best of my (little) knowledge, the diseased fish are not usually sold, and any fish whose disease would impact humans are not (spuuopsed to be) sold.
I do not see a practical issue for my subscribers.
Same thing for salmon lice (which some kosher agencies are crazy about). As I remember from a conversation I had with Avi Attias (co-owner of Banner Smoked Fish in Brooklyn, NY) any lice on the fish fall off after they are frozen, and are so huge and ugly that they would never wind up in the food supply.
In long: fear not!