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Shark Teeth and Jaws
Shark teeth and jaws are often seen for sale in tourist shops in seaside areas, despite the fact that in many countries it is illegal to catch sharks. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an international agreement which aims to ensure that trade in wild animals and plants don't threaten their survival. White Sharks, Whale Sharks and Basking Sharks are all listed under Appendix I, meaning trade is illegal unless a licence is held. However, the teeth and jaws of the protected White Shark can fetch substantial sums on the black market, with single teeth often selling for over $100 and a whole set of jaws from a big shark fetching up to $10,000 in the USA. Illegal smuggling of teeth and jaws from White Sharks is becoming increasingly common in countries such as South Africa, where sharks are legally protected.
Unfortunately many tourists find shark teeth appealing but buying a 'fresh' shark tooth is never a good thing. Many Sharks are amongst the most threatened species in the world and this encourages traders to exploit them further. It is very difficult to be certain that shark teeth and jaws have been harvested from a shark that was caught sustainably. So instead of buying a 'fresh' shark tooth, we recommend that you buy fossilised shark teeth, which are available on the open market. Fossilised teeth tend to be darker in colour and have an aged appearance whereas fresh teeth tend to be white and shiny. There are also some very real looking artificial shark teeth on the market for those who wish to buy a White Shark replica.
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