Good shark and ray conservation news


This video is called Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Shark Biology.

From Wildlife Extra:

Five new species of shark and two manta ray species now protected under CITES

Protection begins this week for five more shark species and two manta ray species designated under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that was agreed at a conference of 178 governments in Bangkok in March 2013.

There were a number of technical issues associated with the listing, such as enforcement agencies learning how to identify products in trade, especially the fins that are usually traded in dried form, and so the Parties were given an 18- month period to prepare for the introduction of CITES requirements.

Any trade in oceanic white tip shark, porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark, and manta ray products is now to be restricted via national regulations to “avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.”

Their commercial trade must be strictly regulated and the species can only be exported or taken from national and international waters when the exporting / fishing country certifies they were legally sourced and that the overall level of exports does not threaten the species.

Many shark and both manta ray species have suffered drastic population declines in recent years due to commercial fishing, mainly to feed demand in China.

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year, with fins from up to 73 million used for shark fin soup.

Some shark populations have declined by up to 98 per cent in the past 15 years, and nearly one-third of pelagic (those that inhabit the open sea) shark species are considered threatened by the IUCN’s Red List.

Secretary-General of CITES, John E Scanlon said: “Regulating international trade in these shark species is critical to their survival.

“Implementation will involve some challenges to ensure that this trade is legal, sustainable and traceable, and this will include practical issues such as identifying the fins and meat that are in trade.

“But by working together we can and will do it.”

Work is also being done in China to reduce the demand for these endangered marine animals, spearheaded by conservation charity WildAid in conjunction with Shark Savers, the Manta Trust and SOS – Save Our Species.

The manta effort kicks off this month with 100 billboards throughout Guangzhou, with the message “eating Peng Yu Sai [the Chinese name for manta products] leads to species extinction”. It will soon also include a new video to be broadcast on Chinese television.

Guangdong TV, a Cantonese language network, has produced a five-part segment for the news about the conservation issues facing manta and mobula, as well as the risks to public health as the gills from manta and mobula are being falsely marketed as a health tonic.

It takes eight to 10 years for a manta to mature sexually and a female manta may give birth to only one pup every two to five years. Due to this slow reproduction they cannot sustain even modest fishing levels.

WildAid argues that mantas are worth far more alive to local communities than dead. In 2013, the total sale of manta and devil ray gills in Guangzhou was estimated at $30 million, with most of the financial benefit going to the distribution channel rather than fishermen.

In contrast, coastal communities can benefit greatly from sustainable ecotourism around manta ray watching, which attracts more than an estimated US $140 million per year, globally.

Mozambique reef sharks, new research


This video says about itself:

23 May 2014

In this new Shark Academy, Jonathan Bird explores the Gray Reef Shark, a small feisty shark that is one of the most common in the tropical Pacific. It’s also the species most well known for agonistic displays.

From Wildlife Extra:

New tagging scheme in Mozambique to study endangered grey reef sharks

Grey reef sharks appear to congregate around Vamizi Island to reproduce

Vamizi Island in Mozambique is launching a shark-tagging project to learn more about grey reef sharks.

This endangered species on the IUCN Red List is often seen on Vamizi’s reefs and is an important indicator of the health of the marine ecosystem.

In September 2014, a group of scientists will travel to Vamizi to assist freediving world record holder and IUCN Oceans Ambassador, William Winram, as he dives to fit satellite tags to 10 sharks.

Photographer and film-maker Mattias Klum will capture footage of the event to feature in a film he is producing on the marine eco-system that surrounds Vamizi.

In October, a further 20 sharks will be fitted with acoustic tags by marine scientists. The object of the project is to understand the sharks’ movements and breeding habits, providing invaluable information in the bid to protect them.

The grey reef shark tagging project is one of the first initiatives to be launched under a new partnership between Vamizi and the IUCN.

Large aggregations of up to 30 grey reef sharks have been witnessed between July and November at sites such as the Neptune’s Arm dive site.

All the sharks are mature females, suggesting that these aggregations may have something to do with reproduction.

This Vamizi aggregation is one of the very few known along the East Africa Coast, where shark populations are severely threatened.

By collecting data from tags fitted, the Vamizi-IUCN team will begin gathering the knowledge about their patterns of behaviour, feeding and reproduction that is needed to develop a strategy to protect them.

Known as the Vamizi ‘Big Five’ on the island, the grey reef shark, green turtle, giant grouper, bumphead parrotfish and Napoleon wrasse, all feature on the IUCN’s Red List of endangered species, and take refuge in Vamizi’s waters to feed and reproduce.

From early 2015, the project will be rolled out across several more of the most endangered species, including the populations of marine … hawksbill turtles that are frequent visitors to Vamizi’s reefs.

New Zealand great white shark research


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Great white shark, Pip

In the second of our series on New Zealand great whites we’re introducing you to Pip. She’s a recent addition to our tagging programme and is a decent size at 3.3 metres long.

From Wildlife Extra:

Great white shark project reveals surprising facts to NZ researchers

A 10-year project to find out more about the great white sharks that inhabit New Zealand waters is coming to an end as scientists tackle the final phases of data analysis.

The project was run jointly by the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the NZ Department of Conservation project to fisheries scientist and shark expert Dr Malcolm Francis is one of several scientists who have spent the past decade tagging great whites – a protected species – and following their movements.

Dr Francis said the initial aims of the project were to find out how mobile the sharks were, how far they travelled and where to, and their habitat requirements.

The tagging programme involved the use of acoustic tags, determining how the sharks use their habitat near seal colonies, pop-up tags that gather data on light, depth and temperature, and electronic tags attached to a shark’s dorsal fin to track their movements.

Since 2005, the team has tagged 95 sharks, mainly at the Chatham Islands and Stewart Island and have made some surprising discoveries.

“We found that most migrate to the tropics during winter,” he said. “The first one or two we saw do this came as a real surprise. They go between May and July and return between December and March, spending more time out of New Zealand waters than in.”

A 3.3m-long great white named Pip by the researchers, arrived in New South Wales near Sydney, with tracking data showing she took 20 days to travel 2,020km from the southern Snares Shelf. She has since moved steadily northwards, and recently entered Queensland waters.

By comparison, great white sharks that live around the southern Australian coast travel mainly up the east or west coasts, but do not often venture into the open ocean.

The New Zealand tagging also showed that the sharks travel in a remarkably straight line on their migrations, averaging about 5km/h or 100km/day, but have done up to 150km a day.

In the afternoons they tend to spend time at the surface but also make regular dives between 200 and 800m – the record depth is 1,246m.

“We don’t know why they’re doing that,” said Francis. “We assume they’re feeding. We also don’t know how they navigate in a straight line or why. It’s a big puzzle and not one we are likely to work out.

“While we’ve found out some answers to some questions, our work has also raised a series of other questions. We’ve found out about the large scale, and where and when they hang out around northern Stewart Island, but not what they do close to mainland New Zealand.

Clinton Duffy, shark scientist with the Department of Conservation, said, “We confirmed that juveniles inhabit shallow coastal waters and harbours around New Zealand, feeding mainly on fish.

“Once they grow to about 3m long, the sharks begin to feed on marine mammals. They continue to feed on fish or squid but they tend to aggregate near seal colonies, so there are large behaviour changes.”

The information gathered on the distribution of sharks will now be compared with the distribution of commercial fishing to figure out where and when the sharks are at greatest risk of being inadvertently caught by fishing gear.

See Warwick Lyon, a marine biologist on the project, talking about two of the sharks they have been monitoring, Pip and Scarface, in the videos.

This video says about itself:

Great white shark, Scarface

Meet Scarface, a great white we have been monitoring for a couple of years. He’s a bit of a character, inquisitive and a little aggressive. Watch the video to find out how Scarface got his name.

Tagging starry smoothhound sharks in Dutch Zeeland


Starry smoothhound sharks

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Fishermen count sharks in Zeeland

Wednesday Aug 13 2014, 08:56 (Update: 13-08-14, 09:46)

Eleven charter boats and three hundred anglers will go counting sharks for research institute Imares the next three days off the coast of Zeeland. The starry smooth hound shark is increasingly seen in the North Sea.

Overfishing made the North Sea emptier for a long time and it seemed to be not a good environment for the shark. The number of starry smoothhound sharks meanwhile appears to increase again. To see how many there are, they are counted now.

Tags

From the Neeltje Jans concrete harbour in the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier the boats depart towards the sea. Then, there will be fishing for the sharks. They will get a plastic label in their fins and will be weighed, measured and monitored to determine species and sex. Then, they will go back into the sea.

Skipper Hank Parree participates for the third time in the count, which is held in the Netherlands since 2011 and has provided more than 2000 fish with tags. “The sharks are about 1.20 meters and have no teeth but a kind of sandpaper-like tooth plates. But they are real sharks,” he explained to the NOS Radio 1 News.

Unknown

The starry smoothhound shark is seen in many places. “They swim in the Bay of Biscay, in Iceland, Scotland and Brittany. Everywhere they are found,” said Parree. Yet there is little information about the animal. This project should change that. “It’s a big operation, all to protect the sharks better”.

Great white shark research in Mexico, video


This video says about itself:

7 August 2014

In 2013, a team from the Oceanographic Systems Lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution took a specially equipped REMUS “SharkCam” underwater vehicle to Guadalupe Island in Mexico to film great white sharks in the wild. The[y] captured more than they bargained for.