Project Leader

Rebecca Gillham

Rebecca Gillham

Who I am

My interest in the natural world started at a young age when I would watch wildlife documentaries and I developed a love for being outdoors. Summer holidays spent visiting family in the Caribbean involved days at the beach and snorkelling. I was fascinated by the world under the sea’s surface and the creatures that called this watery place home. Learning to scuba dive took my love for the ocean to another level and I remember being so excited when I saw my first shark on a dive. An MSc in biological diversity and experience in marine science and conservation in both the field and the laboratory led to a position as a conservation officer at the Shark Trust. I’m delighted to get to work on a variety of projects that aim to increase knowledge and awareness of sharks, skates, rays and chimaera and to advocate for appropriate protection of these incredible animals.

Where I work

Although based in the UK, the Shark Trust works on international projects, many of which have a focus on the Mediterranean. It’s no secret that the Mediterranean Sea is a risky place to be a shark or ray due to increasing fishing pressure that is often unregulated and unmonitored. Giant guitarfish, wedgefish and guitarfish (known collectively as rhino rays) are the most threatened marine fish in the world. Two species are resident in the Mediterranean: the Critically Endangered blackchin guitarfish and the Endangered common guitarfish. Despite regional protection, these species are highly valued for their meat and fins and are targeted in fisheries along the North African coast and in the eastern Mediterranean.

What I do

Little is known about the existing fisheries for guitarfish in the Mediterranean. I’m excited to collaborate with partners in the region to increase the profile of guitarfish and find out more about them. By surveying fish markets and landing sites, I collect information about their distribution, potential hotspots and market demand for them so that we are better positioned to safeguard these threatened species.

My project

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