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Resources for Researchers
Research forms the basis of our REACH approach. We believe in supporting the best, groundbreaking research from around the world in the marine conservation realm. Our work has a particular focus on sharks but also includes projects that tackle any of the key threats to our oceans.
SOSF is always excited to hear about marine conservation and environmental education projects being undertaken or planned around the world. If you have a project or an idea which falls within one of the Foundation’s priority areas for action you may be eligible for a grant to assist in the work.
Grants may be awarded for research projects, conservation actions, public awareness initiatives or environmental education activities. A high proportion of grants are awarded for projects focused on threatened species of sharks and rays, but those concerned with other internationally important marine species, habitats or locations, may also be supported, as may imaginative marine public awareness and environmental projects of a more general nature. Currently two classes of grant are available – standard grants of up to US$60,000 in value, and small grants of up to US$20,000 in value. Those interested should first study the funding guidelines, which include information on the size and type of project favoured by SOSF, as well as details on how to apply.
Latest research articles
20 September 2012
Temperate and tropical brown macroalgae thrive, despite decalcification, along natural CO2 gradients
Predicting the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal ecosystems requires an understanding of the effects on macroalgae and their grazers, as these underpin the ecology of rocky shores. Whilst calcified coralline algae (Rhodophyta) appear to be especially vulnerable to ocean acidification, there is a lack of information concerning calcified brown algae (Phaeophyta), which are not obligate calcifiers but are still important producers of calcium carbonate and organic matter in shallow coastal waters. Here, we compare ecological shifts in subtidal rocky shore systems along CO2 gradients created by volcanic seeps in the Mediterranean and Papua New Guinea, focussing on abundant macroalgae and grazing sea urchins. In both the temperate and tropical systems the abundances of grazing sea urchins declined dramatically along CO2 gradients. Temperate and tropical species of the calcifying macroalgal genus Padina (Dictyoaceae, Phaeophyta) showed reductions in CaCO3 content with CO2 enrichment. In contrast to other studies of calcified macroalgae, however, we observed an increase in the abundance of Padina spp. in acidified conditions. Reduced sea urchin grazing pressure and significant increases in photosynthetic rates may explain the unexpected success of decalcified Padina spp. at elevated levels of CO2. This is the first study to provide a comparison of ecological changes along CO2 gradients between temperate and tropical rocky shores. The similarities we found in the responses of Padina spp. and sea urchin abundance at several vent systems increases confidence in predictions of the ecological impacts of ocean acidification over a large geographical range.
26 August 2012
Whale shark Rhincodon typus populations along the west coast of the Gulf of California and implications for management
ABSTRACT: We used photo-identification data collected from 2003 through 2009 to estimate population structure, site fidelity, abundance, and movements of this species along the west coast of the Gulf of California to make recommendations for effective conservation and management. Of 251 whale sharks identified from 1784 photographs, 129 sharks were identified in Bahía de Los Ángeles and 125 in Bahía de La Paz. Only juveniles (mostly small) were found in these 2 bays. At Isla Espíritu Santo, we identified adult females; at Gorda Banks we identified 15 pregnant females. High re-sighting rates within and across years provided evidence of site fidelity among juvenile sharks in the 2 bays. Though the juveniles were not permanent residents, they used the areas regularly from year to year. A proportion of the juveniles spent days to a month or more in the coastal waters of the 2 days before leaving, and periods of over a month outside the study areas before entering the bays again. Additionally, 26 juveniles migrated between Bahía de Los Ángeles and Bahía de La Paz. Pregnant females aggregated for a few days in oceanic waters at Isla Espíritu Santo and Gorda Banks, but no re-sightings occurred between years. The presence of pregnant females and small juveniles (2 m) suggests the presence of a nursery near the 2 far offshore areas. These 4 localities are important for conservation of this endangered species.
16 September 2011
Extinction of a shark population in the Archipelago of Saint Paul’s Rocks (equatorial Atlantic) inferred from the historical record
Detecting and determining the validity of local extinctions is an important conservation measure in order to uncover management failures. There are quantitative and qualitative methods that estimate extinction probability based on past sighting records. However, because current baselines about species’ abundances and distributions in the sea were mostly established after humans had started affecting marine populations, researchers must often rely on historical data to elucidate past environmental conditions. We review early historical records from the Archipelago of Saint Paul’s Rocks, together with data from recent expeditions, with the aim of testing the hypothesis that reef sharks (Carcharhinus spp.) have become extinct there. Our analyses are based on non-parametric probabilistic tests for extinction and on a qualitative framework to examine and judge as objectively as possible the likelihood of local extinction. Until the mid-20th century, visitors to St. Paul’s Rocks invariably commented on the remarkable number of sharks around the Archipelago. These observations contrast with those of expeditions carried out during the last decade, which report no carcharhinid reef sharks while scuba diving in the archipelago, despite many more hours of underwater fieldwork than previous expeditions. All quantitative and qualitative methods conclude that the reef shark Carcharhinus galapagensis is locally extinct at St. Paul’s Rocks after a sharp decrease in abundance that took place following the commencement of fishing. However, the persistence of occasional individuals of the once locally common Carcharhinus falciformis in the vicinity of the Archipelago, as a result of constant immigration of this oceanic species from outside the area, suggest that the population might recover if the present fishing pressure was removed.
29 June 2011
The physiological response of the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) to longline captur
Save Our Seas supported scientist Edward Brooks produced an interesting paper on longline shark fishing. Longline fishing is the most common elasmobranch capture method around the world, yet the physiological consequences of this technique are poorly understood. To quantify the sub-lethal effects of longline capture in the commonly exploited Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi), 37 individuals were captured using standard, mid-water longlines. Hook timers provided hooking duration to the nearest minute. Once sharks were landed, blood samples were taken and used to measure a suite of physiological parameters. Control data were obtained by sampling an additional three unrestrained Caribbean reef sharks under water at an established shark feeding site. The greatest level of physiological disruption occurred after 120–180 min of hooking, whereas sharks exposed to minimal and maximal hook durations exhibited the least disturbed blood chemistry. Significant relationships were established between hooking duration and blood pH, pCO2, lactate, glucose, plasma calcium and plasma potassium. Longline capture appears more benign than other methods assessed to date, causing a shift in the stress response from acute at the onset of capture to a sub-acute regime as the capture event progresses, apparently facilitating a degree of physiological recovery. Continued investigation into the physiological response of elasmobranchs to longline capture is vital for the effective management of such fisheries.
06 September 2010
Oceans apart? Short-term movements and behaviour of adult bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas in Atlantic and Pacific Oceans determined from pop-off satellite archival tagging
After seven years of study starting in the Bahamas and ending in Fiji Juerg has published a paper on his finding of the short-term movements of bull sharks.
12 December 2009
Tracking the fin trade: genetic stock identification in Western Atlantic scalloped hammerhead sharks
Location or stock-specific landing data are necessary to improve management of shark stocks, especially those imperiled by overexploitation as a result of the international shark fin trade. In the current absence of catch monitoring directly at extraction sites, genetic stock identification of fins collected from major market supply chain endpoints offers an overlooked but potentially useful approach for tracing the fins back to their geographical, or stock of, origin. To demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, we used mitochondrial control region (mtCR) sequences to trace the broad geographical origin of 62 Hong Kong market-derived scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) fins.
01 December 2009
Redescription of the genus Manta with resurrection of Manta alfredi (Krefft, 1868)
Having previously announced the discovery of a second manta ray species, SOSF funded Dr Andrea Marshall has now published the specifics of the differences between the two in leading taxonomic journal Zootaxa.