10 thoughts on “UK rich eat illegal caviar, threatening sturgeon

  1. Sturgeon

    A recent study at the University of Paris-South in Orsay, France, asked people at upscale receptions to sample and compare two types of caviar—one from a common species of sturgeon and one from a rare sturgeon species. Seventy percent of participants preferred the rare caviar. The researchers conducted the same taste test at a supermarket, targeting people who were not familiar with caviar, and they, too—by 74 percent—preferred the rare caviar. The punchline is that in both tests the caviar offered was exactly the same, coming from farmed sturgeon. The results bode ill for an ancient fish species already losing the battle for survival (see February/March 2005 National Wildlife) to habitat loss and degradation as well as to commercial egg collection. One hope for sturgeon has been the potential for replacing eggs collected in the wild with farmed eggs, but this test suggests that people’s taste buds respond more to the label on a caviar jar than to the caviar itself, creating a market for the rarer, more expensive forms even if there is no noticeable difference in taste. Caspian Sea sturgeons, which produce some of the most expensive caviar in the world, could become extinct by 2012 at current rates of egg collection.—Roger Di Silvestro



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