Sharks are generally sought after for their fins, with estimates indicating that around 30 - 80,000,000 sharks are killed on an annual basis – which means that by the time you have finished reading this paragraph, 190 sharks have been illegally slaughtered.
Entries in sharks (6)
A shark has been found to use glow in the dark spines on its back to scare away potential predators. Scientists carried out research on the Velvet Belly Lanternshark, which is a small species found in the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and apparently has a unique way to discourage any bigger fish that might attack it.
After a year’s collaboration with the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative, the Pew Environmental group finally announced the Cooks Islands’ efforts to enforce a ban on sale, trade and possession of shark products in the largest shark sanctuary in the world.
In celebration of shark week, Science Club thought we would share a shark conservation success story from The Marine Megafauna Foundation, Mozambique. Individual whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), like leopards (Panthera pardus), can be identified by unique patterns of spots. The Marine Megafauna Foundation have utilised this characteristic by photographing individuals spot patterns and uploading the images onto the ECOCEAN Global Whale Shark Database.
On Monday 30th July Thierry Robert MP, Mayor of St Leu commune, Réunion Island made the decision to “act to safeguard the security of goods and people of his town” by authorising and encouraging the fishing and hunting of the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas). He encouraged their hunting by any means necessary, including spear fishing day and night, with monetary rewards.
Authorities in Colombia have reported a mass shark killing in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed site, the Malpelo Wildlife Sanctuary. Over the past few days reports have emerged that almost 2000 sharks have been killed for their fins, including hammerhead, Galapagos and silky sharks.
Discovery of the slaughtered sharks was made by a team of divers who were investigating the animals in Colombia’s Pacific waters. The team reported seeing a number of finless sharks on the ocean floor, none of which were alive. On the surface, fishing boats and trawlers were gathered approximately 500 kilometres from the mainland, all of which had illegally entered the sanctuary.
The Colombian president’s top advisor on environmental issues, Sandra Bessudo, has spent much of her career campaigning to preserve the unique marine environment in Malpelo and is shocked by the massacre, “I received a report, which is really unbelievable, from one of the divers who came from Russia to observe the large concentration of sharks in Malpelo. They saw a large number of fishing trawlers entering the zone illegally,” she said.
The Malpelo Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected marine environment that aims to provide a safe-haven for threatened species such as the targeted sharks. Covering over 8570 square kilometres, the sanctuary is home to a vast number of hammerhead sharks, silky sharks and the short-nosed ragged-toothed shark, known locally as the ‘Malpelo Monster’.
Colombia’s navy maintains a patrol in the sanctuary however there were no patrol boats present at the reported time of shark finnings in the area. After news spread of the massacre, the navy dispatched a number of boats which resulted in the seizure of an Ecuadorian fishing boat that allegedly had up to 300 kilograms of illegal catch, including sharks, on board.
Neighbouring countries have voiced outrage over the massacre and governments have vowed to co-operate to catch the criminals involved. The Costa Rican foreign ministry has also condemned the killings and said they would prosecute any vessels that were identified flying the Costa Rican flag.