Movements of the enigmatic ocean wanderer, the endangered oceanic whitetip shark
– MAHMOOD SHIVJI, February 26, 2012
One of the most threatened shark species across its range may very well be the oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus. Although once considered one of the most abundant sharks in the open ocean, this species has been subject to enormous bycatch fishing pressure in pelagic fisheries worldwide, and is now believed to have declined precipitously in much of its range. The IUCN lists the oceanic whitetip as Vulnerable globally, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Furthermore this species has been assessed as Critically Endangered in the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic Ocean. Despite its overfished status and once apparently high abundance in the open ocean, remarkably little is known about the general biology of this species to guide conservation and management efforts to prevent further declines and facilitate recovery of this species. Essential information needed about the stock structure and migration patterns of this species is almost non-existent.
To facilitate conservation and management efforts for oceanic whitetip sharks, the Save Our Seas Shark Center USA working in collaboration with the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Marine Conservation International are using integrative approaches to investigate the population connectivity of this species. Research is underway to determine the stock structure of oceanic whitetip sharks on a global scale by using advanced genetic and genomic techniques, and understand migration patterns of this ocean wanderer in the western Atlantic with the aid of satellite tracking technologies.
Long-term tracks of two oceanic whitetip sharks tagged with SPOT satellite tags in the Caribbean can be viewed on the following interactive website: