Order print   subscribe new

Hundreds of Shark Skins Found in Abandoned Factory in the Azores

Untitled design 2

On a deserted stretch of coastline on the island of Pico in the Azores is the creepiest and saddest abandoned building I have ever seen.

It is a former shark processing factory where thousands upon thousands of the animals were turned into sandpaper, oil and other by-products.

Today you can still find decaying stacks of shark skins - hundreds of them left to rot in the delipidated sheds, windows smashed and walls crumbling.

The fishermen on Pico, the second largest island in the Azores - an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic which is part of Portugal, stopped targeting sharks more than 20 years ago after local stocks had been seriously depleted. The factory is believed to have been abandoned shortly afterwards.

IMG 8501

 IMG 8492

Skins from sharks and rays had long been used by craftsmen as an abrasive to finish fine goods and in the 19th Century it was known as 'shagreen'. The practice dates back to ancient Egypt and was common in  Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. The skin, when treated with paraffin and sodium bicarbonate, becomes supple and was also used to cover jewel boxes, watch cases and sword handles.

Campaigners WildLifeRisk after a lengthy investigation recently found a factory in southeastern China which was still processing shark skins. Its owner claimed in 2013 that they were skinning from more than 600 whale and basking sharks a year to sell on to handbag manufacturers.

* Francesca is a marine artist, dive instructor and a PADI Ambassador

 IMG 8595

 

Share this article...
mulipack

THREE AMAZING DIVE eBOOKS - FREE

Love diving? You'll love these. Sign up today to immediately download our unique FREE gifts -

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - DIVE's 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks

SCUBA STORIES - DIVE's collection of real life stories where divers, who have got themselves into perilous situations, describe how they reacted and what actions they took to ensure they lived to tell the tale

PACIFICHighlights of the Pacific - Dancing mantas in Hawaii • The Best Diving in the World, Galápagos, Cocos, Malpelo & Socorro • Mass Spawning Events in Palau

Sidebar SUBSCRIBE large2

Destinations Spotlight

Need inspiration for your next dive trip? Try one of our featured destinations from DIVE's travel partners.

sidebar bahamas sidebar mexico sidebar fiji sidebar st helena Sidebar Egypt sidebar banner sabah sidebar banner belize

DIVE Partners

ceningan divers ad 300x100 LH 300 min giphy subex Wakatobi Siladen Aggressor Fisheye Dive Worldwide gozo banner Arenui

Read DIVE magazine

DIVE magazine is available to read on many devices. Simply click one one of the options below


PCMac final
Apple finalAndroid final

Like what you see?

Join us on social and keep updated daily...