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In a coup for for shark and manta conservation efforts, five species of shark and two species of manta rays will now be subject to international trade regulation under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
A required two thirds majority of CITES members voted to extend protections to oceanic whitetip sharks, porbeagle sharks, three species of hammerhead sharks, and the two species of manta rays. This marks a major increase in the number of sharks protected by CITES from three to eight species, and could prevent a total collapse of these threatened species.
Sharks are primarily targeted for their fins, which are traded to Asia for use in shark fin soup. Manta rays are caught and killed for their gill rakers — the part used to filter their food from the water — which have come into high demand in recent years as a purported health tonic used in Chinese medicine.
Dr. Demian Chapman of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University has published a shark fin identification guide aimed at aiding enforcement and customs personnel in the identification of the first dorsal fins of five shark species heavily targeted for their fins. An estimated 26-73 million sharks are killed each year to supply the global shark fin trade.
Many experts agree that it is necessary to monitor the trade in fins of five shark species of concern: oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth and great). These species are globally distributed, large-bodied and their fins are traded internationally in large numbers. Four of the species have at least one population listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition, four of the species are subject to conservation and management measures in one or more regional fisheries management organizations. All of these species have also at some point been proposed for inclusion on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The guide can be accessed online here, and downloadable PDF…
Save Our Seas Foundation has been pleased to provide funding for a peer-reviewed research paper by University of Sydney doctoral candidate Christopher Neff and and Dr. Robert Hueter, Director of Marine Biology and Conservation at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Their article appears in the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.
The term “shark attack” is typically used by the media, government officials, researchers and the public to describe almost any kind of human-shark interaction — even those where no contact or injury occurs between humans and sharks.
Now, Christopher Neff of the University of Sydney, Australia, and Dr. Robert Hueter, leader of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research in Sarasota, Fla. — the only Congressionally designated national research center in the U.S. focused on sharks — propose a new system of classification to support more accurate scientific reporting about shark interactions, along with more accurate public discussion about shark risk to swimmers and divers.
The international study, published this week in the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, istitled, “Science, policy, and the public discourse of shark ‘attack’: a proposal for reclassifying human–shark interactions.” A free download of the article is available at: CONTINUE READING →
Seal colonies are well established white shark aggregation areas, but a new study shows that inshore coastal areas (not associated with seals) can be equally as important for white sharks and that use of aggregation areas can differ between the sexes, which has important management implications.
The researchers described their findings in a paper published online January 28 in PLOS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0055048). The study was conducted in False Bay, South Africa where the scientists tracked 56 tagged white sharks of both sexes ranging in size from 1.7 to 5 meters over a period of 32 months.
“We found that white sharks showed high levels of residency to the seal colony over autumn and winter as expected, but we were very surprised to learn that female sharks showed equally high residency at inshore areas during spring and summer and that males were notably absent,” said Alison Kock, who led the study as part of her PhD research at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Kock explains that “the shift from the island in autumn and winter to the inshore region in spring and summer by female sharks mirrors the seasonal peaks in prey abundance including juvenile seals at…
Coral reefs are instrumental to the health of the marine environment. They are home to 25% of all marine life, and provide important ecosystem services. They are also notoriously susceptible to the effects of climate change. Increasing ocean acidity, combined with rising temperatures, is killing corals at an alarming rate. Now a recent study opens a window into a genetic process that allows some corals to withstand unusually high temperatures and may hold a key to species survival for organisms around the world.
Although researchers have observed that certain corals withstand stresses better than others, the molecular mechanisms behind this enhanced resilience remain unclear. For their study, Palumbi, lead author Daniel Barshis, a Stanford postdoctoral scholar, and other researchers looked at shallow-reef corals off Ofu Island in American Samoa to determine how they survive waters that often get hotter than 32 degrees Celsius / 90 degrees Fahrenheit during summer-time low tides.
Utilizing cutting edge DNA sequencing technology, the scientists examined the corals’ gene expression when subjected to water temperatures up to 35 degrees Celsius / 95 degrees Fahrenheit. “These technologies are usually applied to human genome screens and medical diagnoses, but we’re now able to apply them…
Blooms, or proliferations, of jellyfish can show a substantial, visible impact on coastal populations—clogged nets for fishermen, stinging waters for tourists, even choked cooling intake pipes for power plants—and recent media reports have created a perception that the world’s oceans are experiencing trending increases in jellyfish. Now, a new multinational collaborative study, involving the University of Southampton, suggests these trends may be overstated, finding that there is no robust evidence for a global increase in jellyfish over the past two centuries.
The results of the study, which includes lead co-author Dr Cathy Lucas, a marine biologist at the University of Southampton, appear in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The key finding of the study shows global jellyfish populations undergo concurrent fluctuations with successive decadal periods of rise and fall, including a rising phase in the 1990s and early 2000s that has contributed to the current perception of a global increase in jellyfish abundance. The previous period of high jellyfish numbers during the 1970s went unnoticed due to limited research on jellyfish at the time, less awareness of global-scale problems and a lower capacity for information sharing (e.g. no Internet).
While there has…
In new research published in a special issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and in “Sources to Seafood: Mercury Pollution in the Marine Environment”, scientists report that mercury released into the air and then deposited into oceans contaminates seafood commonly eaten by people in the U.S. and globally.
Over the past century, mercury pollution in the surface ocean has more than doubled, as a result of past and present human activities such as coal burning, mining, and other industrial processes. The research findings by C-MERC published December 3 also examine the effects of local mercury inputs that dominate some near-shore coastal waters. The research is presented through nine scientific papers in Environmental Health Perspectives and is the culmination of two years of work by approximately 70 mercury and marine scientists from multiple disciplines including biology, ecotoxicology, engineering, environmental geochemistry, and epidemiology. The research provides a synthesis of the science on the sources, fate, and human exposure to mercury in marine systems by tracing the pathways and transformation of mercury to methylmercury from sources to seafood to consumers.
The team’s findings are especially timely, as the U.S. and other nations prepare for the fifth session of the United…