I’m not sure if this is truly disgusting, or something more akin to sad.

Seahorses on Skewers, found in Beijing
Seahorses on Skewers, found in Beijing

The poor little seahorse, a rare species in which the male is the one who gets pregnant and gives birth, is on the endangered species list – its populations have been decimated by overfishing and habitat destruction.  The seahorse is used in traditional Chinese medicine (of course it is), and it is estimated that more than 20 million of these endangered creatures caught and sold every year, and used in as treatment for such ailments as asthma, arteriosclerosis, incontinence, impotence, thyroid disorders, skin ailments, broken bones, and heart disease.  As you would imagine, none of these healing claims have been substantiated.

Import and export of seahorses has been controlled under CITES  (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) since May 15, 2004. However, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, and South Korea have chosen to opt out of the trade rules set by CITES.

The seahorses pictured above are prepared as such: skewered while still alive and squirming, awaiting an intrepid eater’s order.  Once ordered, they are dunked in spicy boiling oil and fried until crispy, and handed over to the customer.   Much like fried dough here in the US.  Without the squirming.

So, really, this photo is sad and disturbing, and not very disgusting.   But I don’t feel like changing the post title.