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Seafood fraud: why your Mediterranean swordfish might actually be shark

Pressure on fish stocks has led to sharks being passed off as swordfish or tuna, endangering the Mediterranean ecosystem

Franco Comes last caught sharks more than six months ago, while longline fishing for swordfish in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Monopoli, Italy. He hauled in an accidental handful of blue sharks. They were tiny.

“They are fewer and fewer, and they are also becoming smaller,” Comes says. “Twenty years ago, there used to be so many sharks – so many! They seem to have decreased by 80%. It’s not just me: every fisherman around here has noticed.”

What they would have put back into the sea, many fishermen are now landing, marketing and selling

Related: Why we need sharks: the true nature of the ocean’s ‘monstrous villains’

Mysterious and often misunderstood, the shark family is magically diverse – from glowing sharks to walking sharks to the whale shark, the ocean’s largest fish. But these magnificent animals very rarely threaten humans: so why did dolphins get Flipper while sharks got Jaws?

Related: Shark finning: why the ocean’s most barbaric practice continues to boom

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