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The Institute's executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, is travelling to Ireland to present the findings of the Lenfest Forage Task Force. She was invited to make the presentation to be followed by discussion with members of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine of Ireland’s National Parliament on Thurs., October 17, in Dublin. Her presentation can be viewed live as a webcast. . Read more.


Congratulations to Institute Ph.D. student Konstantine Rountos whose presentation at the recent American Fisheries Society (AFS) meeting was selected as the best student presentation in a Fish Habitat Section-sponsored symposium. Konstantine will receive both a cash award and a plaque for this accomplishment from AFS. His award-winning presentation, “The Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms on Early Life Stages of Estuarine Forage Fish,” explained the research that he and a team of Institute and SoMAS scientists have conducted on the these algal blooms in Shinnecock Bay, which are caused by the dinoflagellate, Cochlodinium polykrikoides. Read more.

  Konstantine Rountos

WildAid and Shark Savers have announced their intent to merge, combining two of the world’s most successful shark conservation programs. The Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, who is a Shark Savers’ Board Member will join WildAid’s International Advisory Board. Shark Savers’ programs and name will join WildAid’s portfolio of programs to protect endangered wildlife species. Read more.


Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, and SoMAS Ph.D. student Shannon O’Leary led a team of scientists in a study of winter flounder in six bays of Long Island, NY, one of the first that indicates the occurrence of inbreeding in a marine fish. The scientists also determined that the effective number of breeders in each bay was below 500 fish, suggesting that the spawning populations of this historically common fish are now relatively small in the area. These findings suggest the loss of genetic diversity presents survival risks for historically common marine fish and should be considered in fisheries management and conservation plans. Read more.


"People have had this idea for way too long that the seas are so vast and limitless that nothing we could ever do could hurt them,” remarked the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch in a Washington Post article about a conservation group’s effort to double the number of marine species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Read more.


Dr. Ellen Pikitch, the Institute’s executive director, was interviewed by Jocelyn Zuckerman for OnEarth Blog about the importance of forage fish, and the impact that more human consumption of these fish might have on the current demand to use them primarily for animal feed. Read more.


Survival of the fittest plays out in wombs of sand tiger shark. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, is the lead author of a paper published online by the journal Biology Letters on May 1. The paper, “The behavioural and genetic mating system of the sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus, an intrauterine cannibal,” is the result of a multi-year study of these sharks to better understand their reproduction, which includes the killing of embryos by the most developed among them. And, although the female sharks mate with numerous male sharks, this cannibalism in the womb appears to result in “genetic monogamy.” Read more.


Institute and SoMAS Ph.D. student Mark Bond has been selected by the Stony Brook University Chapter of Sigma Xi for a Travel Award. Sigma Xi is an international research society that promotes the health of the scientific enterprise and honors scientific achievement. The Travel Award was awarded to Mark in recognition of the quality and importance of his research, and will be used to offset the expenses of traveling to the 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology to give an oral presentation on his research on southern stingrays in Belize. Read more.

  Mark Bond

The Institute Applauds Historic Action Taken By Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) To Protect Sharks and Manta Rays. The CITES 16th Conference of Parties meeting took a critically important step on March 14 to help prevent the extinction of five shark species, as well as manta rays, when the required two-thirds of the 177 member governments voted in plenary to grant them international trade protection. The oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, three species of hammerhead shark, and manta rays will now have a fighting chance to recover from the decimation of their numbers due to overexploitation. In order for this protection to be effective, however, the Institute strongly encourages that member nations work cooperatively to quickly develop international enforcement procedures of these trade regulations. Read more.


Five shark species and the manta ray gained international trade protection by CITES; however the agreement must still be formally approved by the CITES plenary session. Read more.

  shark fins

Representatives of 177 governments from around the world are expected to attend the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) March 3-14 in Bangkok, Thailand. CITES, which was agreed to in Washington, DC, in 1973, offers protection to more than 30,000 animal and plant species around the globe. It has been instrumental in preventing their extinction and is generally recognized as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements. Read more.


New research on migratory behavior of endangered oceanic whitetip sharks can help shape conservation strategies. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, was a member of a team of scientists who attached pop-up satellite archival tags to 11 mature oceanic whitetip sharks in The Bahamas, and monitored the movements of sharks for varying intervals up to 245 days. Read more.


"Give Shark Sanctuaries a Chance," a letter to the editor, was published in the February 15 issue of Science magazine. Written by Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director of science, who also heads the Shark Research Program, and Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, the Institute’s executive director, along with several of their colleagues, the letter explain why these sanctuaries are important for shark conservation and how they can be successfully managed. Read more.


The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force report, "Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a crucial link in ocean food webs," was included as one of “The Ten Best Ocean Stories of 2012” in the Smithsonian magazine’s blog, Surprising Science. Read more.

  Forage Fish

Institute and SoMAS Ph.D. student Mark Bond has received an Earthwatch Neville Shulman Award. The awards support emerging conservation leaders from Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, and aims to develop the capacity of the successful applicants to plan and implement research- or education-based conservation projects. Mark, who is from South Africa, submitted a project proposal which involves sampling the Belizean commercial shark fishery to quantify species and size composition and the number sharks caught per year. These findings will be presented to the Government of Belize Fisheries Department to help develop a national plan of action for sharks and to regulate the existing commercial fishery. Read about Mark's other research project in Belize.

  Mark Bond

The Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, an Institute project, is featured in a December 3 New York Times editorial titled "Clams and Grass to the Rescue." The editorial highlights the bay’s algae blooms that are caused by pollution from fertilizer and septic runoff. The Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, was interviewed for the editorial: "We as scientists can’t do as much about the septic systems," she said, "but we can do something about restoring shellfish." Read more

  New York Times Editorial

The 2012 holiday issue of the Hamptons magazine includes an article about the Ocean Health Index and its local and global implications. The Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, was interviewed for the article and said, "An unhealthy ocean will lead to a poorer economy, lower food availability, and a less healthy populace. We need to do a better job of educating the public about the consequences of ocean health to their families and communities no matter where they reside." Read more

  Hamptons Magazine

On November 7, the California Fish and Game Commission unanimously adopted a new policy that will prevent the development of new or expanded forage fisheries until essential fishery information (EFI) is available and applied to ensure the sustainability of target forage species and protection of its benefits as prey. According to a November 14 blog in the Huffington Post, this new policy represents the first incorporation of the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force recommendations. Read more

  Fish & Game Commission - California

Despite their vital role in maintaining healthy oceans and their high economic value , only in recent years have forage fish finally begun to garner the attention they deserve,” according to the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, in an opinion article published in the November 1 issue of The Scientist magazine. Referring to the recommendations of the recent report by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force of which Dr. Pikitch is the chair, she states that moving from traditional to precautionary fisheries management of forage fish can lead to “stable forage fish fisheries, healthier oceans with a full complement of marine life, and greater economic value of global commercial fisheries. Read more

  The Scientist

Due to her history of scientific work that has led to improved conservation of several important fish species, the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, was selected by Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine as one of 18 visionaries changing the way we eat. Read more

  Ellen Pikitch

Institute and SoMAS M.S student Tess Geers has successfully completed the requirements for her master’s degree. On October 11, she gave an oral presentation of her thesis, “Developing an ecosystem-based approach to management of the Gulf menhaden fishery using Ecopath with Ecosim.” Tess will begin a new job at the New England Aquarium in Boston as a Conservation Associate/Wild Fisheries Specialist in November 2012. Read more

  Mark Bond

Congratulations to Institute and SoMAS Ph.D. student Mark Bond who is one of six graduate students chosen this semester to present his research as a part of the SBU Provost's Graduate Student Lecture Series. It is an honor to be selected for this lecture series, which allows graduate students to present their own research to a general audience and is designed to foster communication across the disciplines. The title of Mark’s lecture was "Surprise on the Barrier Reef: What Happens When You Protect Sharks?" Read more

  Mark Bond

The Institute led a study published in FISH and FISHERIES that provides a first-time analysis of three distinct contributions of forage fish: as direct catch, as food for other commercially important fish, and as an important link in the food web in marine ecosystems. The results will enable trade-offs to be evaluated in forage fishery and coastal management. Read more

  Fish and Fisheries

The Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, who is a co-principal investigator of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program participated in a news conference on August 27 to discuss the program and to acknowledge a generous contribution from the Laurie Landeau Foundation to fund the restoration efforts. “The hope is that once the shellfish populations reach sufficient densities, they will become self-sustaining and expand,” said Dr. Pikitch. The philanthropic gift from the Laurie Landeau Foundation was matched by a gift from the Simons Foundation for a total impact of $3 million. Read more

  Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch

Americans who eat shark fin soup—an Asian delicacy costing up to $100 per bowl in the United States—might be unknowingly consuming an endangered shark species. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, co-led the DNA testing of shark fin soup served in 14 U.S. cities. The soup study will be featured during Discovery’s show “Shark Fight” at 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 15. Read more

  sharkfin soup

International regulation curbs illegal trade of caviar. Research that used mitochondrial DNA-based testing to compare the extent of fraudulent labeling of black caviar purchased before and after international protection shows conservation benefits. A team of scientists from the Institute and the American Museum of Natural History repeated a market survey of commercially available caviar in the New York City area that was conducted before international trade regulation of sturgeon products was put in place, and the results showed nearly a 50 percent decrease in fraudulently labeled caviar. Read more


Researchers tag 40 threatened oceanic whitetip sharks in the newly implemented Bahamas shark sanctuary. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, is a member of an international team of biologists that has captured and attached pop-up satellite archival tags to a record number of rare oceanic whitetip sharks in The Bahamas in the second year of an ongoing study to monitor the movement and behaviors of this endangered shark species. Read more


IOCS M.S. student Tess Geers has been selected by the Stony Brook University Chapter of Sigma Xi for a Sigma Xi Travel Award. The travel award is in recognition of the quality and importance of her research, and is to be used to offset the expense of attending the 142nd Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Minneapolis-St. Paul in August. During this meeting, Tess will give a presentation on the research she conducted on the menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico to support her thesis. Read more

  Tess Geers

The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force conducted the most comprehensive worldwide analysis of the science and management of forage fish populations to date. Its report, "Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a crucial link in ocean food webs," concluded that in most ecosystems at least twice as many of these species should be left in the ocean as conventional practice. Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, executive director of the Institute, who convened and led the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, said: "As three-fourths of marine ecosystems in our study have predators highly dependent on forage fish, it is economically and biologically imperative that we develop smarter management for these small but significant species." More

  forage fish

Counting Reef Sharks With Cameras: “Chum Cam” Underwater Video Survey Shows That Reef Sharks Thrive in Marine Reserves. Study led by scientists from the Institute uses video cameras to count reef sharks, showing that marine reserves benefit these top predators on the world’s second largest barrier reef. More

  chum cam

Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, the Institute’s executive director, was interviewed during NPR’s Weekend Edition on February 4, about the listing of Atlantic sturgeon under the U.S. Endangered Species Act by NOAA’s Fisheries Service. Read more and Listen

  National Public Radio

The Institute applauds the listing of Atlantic sturgeon under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In response to the announcement by NOAA Fisheries Service, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, the Institute’s executive director, said, “A U.S Endangered Species Act listing for these sturgeon will provide the mechanism needed to implement additional and better informed restoration efforts.” Read more...


A zebra shark in a Dubai aquarium experiences multiple virgin births. According to Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, who was interviewed for an article in National Geographic Daily News about this phenomenon, virgin births “could give sharks a bit of an edge when colonizing new habitats—they don't necessarily have to look for males in a place they want to live.” Read more...


First-ever hybrid shark found off the coast of Australia. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, was interviewed about the discovery of a hybrid shark that is the result of the mating of two different species of blacktip shark Read more...


Institute Ph.D. student Konstantine Rountos has been chosen to receive the 2011 Evan R. Liblit Memorial Graduate Scholarship. The scholarship will be announced at the 14th annual Evan R. Liblit fundraiser breakfast on Thursday, November 17. In 1997, the State University at Stony Brook recognized teacher Evan Liblit’s contributions to solid waste management and recycling, and established a memorial scholarship in his name.

  Konstantine Rountos

Hope for sharks in Fiji. Earlier this year, Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant science director, spent a week in Fiji promoting shark conservation. Dr. Chapman is quoted in a recent article about newly proposed legislation that would ban the commercial fishing and trade of sharks and their parts, including fins, in Fiji. Read more...


Changing human activities coupled with a dynamic environment over the past few centuries have caused fluctuating periods of decline and recovery of corals reefs in the Hawaiian Islands, according to research funded by the Institute, published in the journal PLoS ONE. Read more...

  Coral reefs

Institute Ph.D. student Natasha Gownaris has been awarded a $5,000 Young Explorers grant by the National Geographic Society through its Committee for Research and Exploration. Congratulations to Natasha for receiving this grant and for receiving the maximum amount given by the program. The grant was given to Natasha to support the acoustic tagging component of her graduate fellowship research on fisheries of Lake Turkana in East Africa. Read more about Natasha’s Turkana Basin Institute fellowship.

  Natasha Gownaris

Institute Executive Director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, and other Institute scientists are in Seattle this week (9/4-9/8/11), to participate in the American Fisheries Society 141st Annual Meeting. Their participation will include presentations of several relevant papers, and Dr. Pikitch will be the keynote speaker of the panel session, “Global Conservation, Trophic Relationships and Ecology of Forage Fish in Marine Ecosystems.” (Read More)

  Seattle 2011

Research conducted by Institute scientists is featured in the recently published report, Stony Brook University Research 2007-2010, which includes milestones, awards and selected research activities during that time period (see pages 20-21 & 23). The research highlighted in this report includes studies demonstrating that undesirable evolution of fish can be reversed through ecosystem-based fisheries management; that sharks tend to stay near their coastal birthplace for more than half of the time of their development to adulthood; and that female virgin sharks can produce healthy offspring.

  Research Report cover

This summer of the shark, it’s all about saving them. The Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, was quoted in this op-ed by Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post, which explains why sharks have much more reason to fear humans than the other way around. Read more...


Congratulations to Institute M.S. student, Jimiane Ashe, who successfully completed the presentation of her thesis, “Population genetic structure of Lemon Sharks in the Western Atlantic: is there evidence of gender-biased dispersal and differences between neutral and adaptive loci?” By delineating the population genetic structure of the lemon shark through extensive DNA sampling of 580 individuals from 12 locations, her thesis supports the growing evidence that fine-scale local genetic structure driven by adult females returning to their own birthplace to breed, makes this species and others like it much more vulnerable to local fishing or habitat destruction.

  Jimiane Ashe

Shark Week: Four Unique Technologies Saving Sharks from Extinction: This treehugger article mentions the study led by the Institute that demonstrates that scientists can track the origin of shark fins using “zip codes” in their DNA. Read more...

  shark week

Conducting shark research at Glover’s Reef marine reserve in Belize. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, participated with volunteers in an Earthwatch project aimed at collecting data for a long-term study that could help save shark populations around the world. Read more...

  working with sharks

Loss of Top Animal Predators Has Massive Ecological Effects: Impacts include increases in infectious diseases and invasive species, as well as changes in soil, water, vegetation, and the atmosphere. “Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth,” a review paper to be published on July 15, 2011, in the journal Science, concludes that the decline of large predators and herbivores in all regions of the world is causing substantial changes to Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. The research was funded primarily by the Institute and the paper is co-authored by the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch. Read more...

  Science journal

In response to the deteriorating situation in Shinnecock Bay off Long Island, the Institute is working to restore the health of this ecosystem. As co-principal investigator of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, and her students are engaging with local stakeholders to achieve the long-term goal of turning this “brown tide bay” back into an estuary of thriving wildlife, productive fisheries, lush seagrass meadows and clear water. Read article

  Shinnecock Bay Restoration

The Bahamas steps up to shark conservation challenge. The Institute applauds the government and people of the Bahamas as the Bahamas Department of Fisheries announced on July 5, new protection for sharks within their Exclusive Economic Zone. In the late 1990s the Bahamas prohibited longline fishing in order to protect sharks, which are worth more to the local economy as living tourist attractions. The new law builds on this by adding a specific ban on the export of shark products, such as fins. “The Bahamas has always been a leader in global shark conservation and sustainable use,” said Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant science director. “The new law cements their position and will ensure that the healthy shark populations living in these clear blue waters will be safe for generations to come.” Dr. Chapman has worked on shark biology in the Bahamas since 1996, and provided key scientific information to government officials at the launch of the Pew Environment Group/Bahamas National Trusts campaign that led to these new regulations. Washington Post article


Congratulations to Institute M.S. student, Anna Webb, who successfully completed the presentation of her thesis on June 20. Anna’s thesis, “Understudied species in coastal U.S. waters: Issues, Solutions, and Implications for Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management,” was based on an analysis of federal survey data. Her work quantifies, for the first time, the extent of the understudied species problem in the U.S., and considers various responses. Anna is now preparing her results for publication.

  Anna Webb

Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant science director and head of shark research, assures residents that basking sharks, spotted off the shores of Long Island, pose no risk to humans during a television news interview. See video...

  a basking shark

IOCS student Tess Geers provides an update on her work in the Gulf of Mexico with the support of the Phil Zwickler Charitable and Memorial Foundation TrustGeers, a second-year candidate for a Master of Marine Science, was awarded a grant from the PZ Foundation last fall to support her thesis work in the Gulf. The grant is the first award ever given by the foundation for an environmental project, as well as the first award from the foundation to the Institute through which Geers is conducting her research. Read more...

  Tess Geers

The Institute’s assistant science director and head of shark research, Dr. Demian Chapman worked with a team of scientists in the Bahamas to capture and tag a large number of oceanic whitetip sharks with pop-up satellite archival transmitters for a long-term study of their movements and habitat use. More...

  shark transmitter

Natasha Gownaris awarded graduate fellowship. Natasha Gownaris, a second year doctoral student at the Institute, has been awarded a three-year graduate fellowship from the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI) in Kenya, Africa. More...

  Natasha Gownaris

Institute Ph.D. student Konstantine Rountos has been selected to receive two awards -- the SBU Sigma Xi Chapter Travel Award and the Distinguished Travel Award by the SBU Graduate Student Organization and Graduate School. He was also featured in the National Herald, the nation’s leading Greek American newspaper, about his experience as a Fullbright Scholar. More... | pdf

  Konstantine Rountos

Keeping the Green Economy Blue On April 29, Dr. Ellen Pikitch, the Institute’s executive director, presented on the current state of the oceans and marine environment at the workshop “Keeping the Green Economy Blue” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The workshop was co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Australia and the Pew Environment Group. More...

  Dr. Pikitch at UN

Scientists can track origin of shark fins using “zip codes” in their DNA. Studies show that coastal sharks have “DNA zip codes” that can reveal where they were born; underscores potential of DNA testing to monitor fin trade. More...

  shark fins

Saving the Ocean, a new PBS series hosted by marine biologist Carl Safina, documents positive efforts around the world focused on ocean conservation. The first episodes in the series were filmed in Belize, and will profile the shark conservation efforts at Glover's Reef Marine Reserve where the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science has been conducting a shark survey and monitoring project for more than a decade. More...

  Saving the Ocean

“Use of pop-up satellite archival tags to identify oceanic-migratory patterns for adult Atlantic Sturgeon,” a study of which Institute scientists were co-authors, was published in the February 2011 issue of the Journal of Applied Ichthyology. More...


New study using DNA Identification techniques provides valuable information on Madagascar's shark fisheries.A study that used genetic techniques to study remote shark fisheries in northeastern Madagascar has demonstrated the presence of at least 19 species there, and the most commonly encountered species include those that are considered to be endangered, threatened, or vulnerable. More...

  Madagascar study

This past December, the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force held its fourth meeting in New York City. During this pivotal meeting, the task force members reviewed the results of its research over the past 18 months, and drafted management recommendations for forage fish. More...

  group meeting

Putting teeth into a law to save sharks may sound like a bad pun, but it's a good idea. Dr. Ellen Pikitch was interviewed for this editorial. More...

  shark fins

View "For Sturgeons, the Journey is Long," the American Museum of Natural History Bio Bulletin based on a study co-authored by Dr. Ellen Pikitch that demonstrates adult Atlantic sturgeon move vast distances in the Atlantic Ocean.


Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s Assistant Director of Science, is turning his attention to white sharks, especially the population seasonally present in the Northeast, and attempting to fill in some knowledge gaps, and perhaps debunk some myths, about this near-mythical animal. See Dr. Demian Chapman’s lecture on white sharks on YouTube. More

  great white shark

Institute for Ocean Conservation Science Helps Launch Stony Brook University's Master of Arts Program in Marine Science Conservation and Policy.
New M.A. program is the first of its kind in New York and among only a few such programs nationwide. More...


Institute for Ocean Conservation Science Receives Grant from Phil Zwickler Charitable and Memorial Foundation Trust
First-ever environmental grant from the foundation will support analysis of effects of oil spill on menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. More...

  Phil Zwickler Charitable

Sharks, Mantas, and Turtles to be protected in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Misool Eco Resort and Shark Savers announced today that a Shark Sanctuary has been declared for the entire 17,760 square miles of Raja Ampat, Indonesia. More...

  Shark Sanctuary

Is Your Dinner Endangered? DNA Detectives Investigate
Scientists deploy genetic forensics to protect overhunted animals.
Dr. Demian Chapman was interviewed for
Popular Science. More...

  Demain Chapman

Dr. Ellen Pikitch Comments at NOAA Fisheries Service Sturgeon Hearing
Stony Brook, New York

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

Study Provides Data That Can Inform Atlantic Sturgeon Recovery Efforts
Study of ocean migration indicates that local management of the population may be insufficient and supports recently proposed listing for Atlantic sturgeon under U.S. Endangered Species Act. More...

PSAT sturgeon study

Deep Water Sharks: A New Wave of Ocean Exploration in the Bahamas
The Shark Research and Conservation Program at the Cape Eleuthera Institute initiated a new research program this week aimed at investigating the diversity and abundance of deep ocean sharks.. More...


Wild Caspian Caviar Returns
Decision by five Caspian Sea countries prompts outcries from environmentalists. More...

Removing beluga sturgeon roe
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