As Currency, Dolphin Teeth Feel Recession's Bite

In South Pacific, Solomon Islands putting more stock in ancient trading chip
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2008 11:50 AM CDT
Spinner dolphins like these have valuable, valuable teeth.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Spinner dolphins had better watch out—their pearly whites are again a fast-growing currency in the South Pacific, the Wall Street Journal reports. Economic troubles in the Solomon Islands have caused many to return to the traditional trading chip. “Dolphin teeth are like gold,” says the governor of the nation's central bank. "You keep them as a store of wealth.”

The teeth were used long before Europeans colonized the islands, and are still the preferred currency for buying brides. Ethnic strife has sent their worth soaring over the past year, from 50 Solomon Island cents to two dollars (26 US cents)—and demand still outstrips supply. “People want more teeth, and it's not that easy to get dolphins,” said one hunter.