Ocean News

Bad News and Good News

21st April 2009

The Bahamas is essentially a haven for shark life as longline fishing was banned here in 1993, however that’s not to say illegal longlining by foreign vessels doesn’t go on in remote parts of the archipelago.  The end result is that the diversity and abundance here is as close to a baseline level as you will find anywhere in the world…..  an amazing thing given the endangered nature of sharks.  And that is what makes this story so sad…..

So a little while ago the son of one of our visiting scientists was wandering the docks of the local marina and spotted a large bull shark.  Unfortunately the shark was dead, killed in the early hours of the morning by a group of guys who were having a party in which the side entertainment was killing this young female shark.

The recreational fishing of sharks represents a small but significant source of mortality,  In 1999 approximately 5.7 million sharks were landed by US recreational anglers with a large proportion of that catch released alive.  There are no figures available for The Bahamas.  Sharks are arguably the most threatened group of species in the world and the killing of this animal represents a huge waste, no part of the animal was used, the only goal was killing for the sake of killing.

Now this story has a happy ending for two reasons.

Number one, we retrieved the shark and the students from The Island School and the Spanish Wells All Age School were given an impromptu dissection and lecture on shark anatomy, conservation and biology.

Number two the General Manager of the Cape Eleuthera Marina and Yacht Club has agreed to join the Shark Free Marina Initiative.  This initiative was designed as an open source concept by Patric Douglas of sharkdivers.com and is a voluntary scheme to which any marina or yacht club can join. Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina has now adopted this scheme and no more sharks can be landed there.  Thank you CapeE!