JinYu (Metal Fish)- The Toxic Secret in Your Fish

Fish are generally considered part of a healthy diet, but many fish contain insidious secrets including the potent neurotoxin methyl mercury.

The film premieres at the International Ocean Film Festival San Francisco April 15-May 2nd in the shark films block

JinYu follows two young Chinese students with the NGO Shark Stewards as they investigate mercury content in fish samples collected in San Francisco and Hong Kong Chinatowns. Palo Alto High School student Kevin Zhao, and recent Scripps Institute of Oceanography graduate Tak Yung Lee, sample fish for methyl mercury concentrations. Chinese Americans are among the highest at risk group to mercury toxicity due to their higher intake. Hong Kong Chinese eat more fish per-capita than nearly any other culture in the world. A potent neurotoxin and developmental toxin, high consumption of fish, or consumption of fish with high concentrations of methyl mercury put pregnant women, children and babies most at risk.


With Dr. Amina Schartup of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, we learn about mercury sources, the mercury cycle and deposition into the ocean. Shark Stewards David McGuire explains the bioaccumulation, and biomagnification of methyl mercury up the food chain, which fish that put humans most at risk, and how humans and the ocean would be healthier if we leave wildlife in the wild.

Shot during the COVID crisis , the investigators build on Shark Stewards previous studies sampling large fish like shark, tuna and swordfish that had high concentrations of mercury. Instead, the young investigators purchase and analyze fish consumed by Asian Americans and Chinese from the lower socio-economic scale. The team reveals ancient cultural connections to mercury, and that the Chinese culture is the most at risk to the negative health effects caused by mercury laden fish, and the need for health education in their community.

Shark Stewards David McGuire will be moderating a shark panel on April 29 discussing this and other films and shark conservation with filmmakers and shark specialists.

Produced by Shark Stewards, the film will be translated into Chinese to educate this at risk community.