Fish bladder breakfast? Hong Kong Customs find endangered species hidden in corn flakes

We never seem to tire of Hong Kong’s ever-inventive smuggling stories.

The latest came just yesterday, when customs officials found dried fish swim bladders suspected to be from totoaba, an endangered species, hidden in boxes of corn flakes at Hong Kong Airport.

The three dried organs, with a combined weight of just 0.6 kilograms, are thought to be worth HKD300,000.

The cargo shipment came from Mexico via the United States, with the final destination meant to be mainland China.

However, Hong Kong Customs spotted strange images as the shipment went under X-ray, and eventually dug out the bladders – we’re imagining in a flurry of golden cereal. 

The case has now been handed over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for follow-up action. The maximum penalty is a fine of HKD5 million and two years in jail. 

Totoaba swim bladder is considered a delicacy in Asia, where it is often served in fish maw soup.

Got a tip? Send it to us at

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on