Ocean News

DNA Innovations!

22nd September 2008

Just a quick note to point you in the direction of Innovations magazine, which this month features an article on the ground breaking work of SOSF sponsored Mahmood Shivji and his team at the Guy Harvey Institute.

Mahmood is currently investigating analytic techniques based on genetic sampling to rapidly identify shark species. Identify sharks I hear you say? Shorely we’ve got that sussed by now? You know, the one with the big hammer shaped head is a……. etc. Well things get a little more tricky when you’re dealing with shark parts, which is often what those investigating illegal fishing have to go on. If you can’t identify the shark in the first place, your prime piece of evidence is gone before a criminal case even begins.

The second major problem is that even if you do manage to identify a shark’s species through its DNA, you still don’t know where in the world it came from; as legislation varies across the globe you’re back at square one again.

This is where Mahmood and his team come in. They’re currently developing a forensic DNA tool that can determine shark species far more rapidly than was ever previously possible. With further work they hope to hone done this intrument’s effectiveness, giving us an even more powerful tool in the battle against the illegal trade in sharks.