Shark numbers: comparing Galapagos with non-protected areasLatest update June 11, 2019 Started on June 11, 2019
Sharks are declining worlwide. This project trip will compare shark abundance found in the Galapagos Archipelago with non-protected waters of coastal Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia.
It may be June 2019, but we have come a long way to be where we are. Our shark expeditions started in 2006, when a bunch of colleagues and I decided to step up and collaboratively assess the transboundary connectivity of scalloped hammerhead sharks across the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. Our first field trip was pioneering in the region, as well as interactive. While we were freediving to follow and tag hammerhead sharks, silky and Galapagos sharks were curiously chasing us... non-stop. We manage to safely tag more than 12 sharks with satellite beacons, and more than 20 sharks with passive ultrasonic tracking devices. It was a success!
Over these 13 years we have tagged 20 times those numbers already, and we have depicted the migratory routes of not only hammerhead but also galapagos sharks, silky sharks, tiger sharks, white tip reef sharks, whale sharks and many other shark, ray, fish and marine turtle species. Although far from complete, we have a very detailed map of how Galapagos and other Islands are being used by these species. We just don't know how many sharks are left.
In front of the imminent decline and collapse of many shark populations, to understand their numbers (population dynamics) is a must. Our project is thus focusing on using baited remote underwater stereo-video (BRUVs) and remote operated vehicles (ROVs) to address this lack of knowledge. We hope to deploy these tools in several field trips to be carried out in the following two years.
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