Preserving Shark Jaws and Skin from Start to Finish

Picture of Preserving Shark Jaws and Skin from Start to Finish
I went fishing on the Gulf coast recently, and sadly saw a fisherman killing all the sharks he caught and throwing them back. I think it will take a lot more education and outreach to convince the general public that sharks are not mindless killing drones, but are actually very essential in maintaining population and trophic structures in marine ecosystems. 

So I asked if I could keep the last shark I saw him kill, as I hate to see things go to waste. 
I planned to preserve the jaw and skin, and eat the meat (I didn't know at that if you plan on eating a shark, you must prepare the meat immediately, or the urea in its blood will cause the meat to be not so tasty). 

I think that this will also work for any fish with bony/cartilaginous mouths.

A big thanks to my fellow biologist and good friend, Daniel Warren for tips and advice.

Warning: this instructable contains graphic images.
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Step 1: Supplies and Materials

Picture of Supplies and Materials
Things you will need:
  • Sharp filet knife
  • Pliers
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dissection kit or exacto knife (optional)
  • Nails
  • Board
  • String
  • Broken glass (beer bottle will do)
  • Salt
  • Dremmel or sandpaper
  • Acrylic spray coating

Step 2: Step 1: Skin the Shark and Extract the Jaw

Picture of Step 1: Skin the Shark and Extract the Jaw
The first step is to skin the shark using your filet knife. I left the most graphic pictures out, but I will walk you through the necessary  steps. 
  1. Make cuts along the length of the shark, along the sides (lateral) and top (dorsal) from the back of the head all the way down to the tail. 
  2. Using your pliers, peel the skin off the body starting from the head. 
  3. Sever the head from the body
nanaverm7 months ago

I wonder how black soldier fly larvae would clean bones. They eat fast!

For more on how to clean bones, check out Jake's Bones blog. He's a 12 yr. old in Scotland who has been doing this for 6 yrs! and goes over the pros and cons of many cleaning techniques.

ShutterEye2 years ago
Awesome Instructable, Slylee! What concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide do you use? I use 40 volume for preserving skeletons and skulls from terrestrial animals, but is it safe to use on a shark jaw?

I'm not going to do this Instructable, just curious if it matters, you see I live in the middle of the Kalahari desert so my chances of bumping into a shark are pretty damn small!
I didn't know you were going to show us everything starting with the shark! Very thorough and informative Instructable :)
slylee (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
Surprise!...Thanks, I tried my best. Sharks are not my field of expertise, but they are one of my favorite top predators of the sea. Glad you liked it!
Where did you get the shark?
slylee (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
near Ocean Springs, MS. I asked the fisherman if I could keep it since I hate seeing things go to waste.
Arkasha slylee2 years ago
That fisherman strikes me as pretty nasty. That was a very small shark, totally harmless to people.

slylee (author)  Arkasha2 years ago
It's not that he was a bad human being. The fundamental problem is just lack of education combined with how society and culture value sharks. Yeah it was a tiny shark-some fisherman kill them because they think it "ruins" fishing, which is totally false.
This is great!
Now, Im going to go try and catch a shark in Utah.