I am a marine biologist who has worked in the Galapagos Islands since 1991, initially as a research officer in a fisheries monitoring program for the Darwin Foundation in 1998, after which I completed a master’s program in marine resource management at the University of Tokyo. I am currently the Head of the Marine Ecosystem Monitoring Program at the Galapagos National Park. Earlier this year, he and his team made international headlines with the discovery of a hammerhead shark nursery in the Galapagos Islands, which was also featured on BBC.
The primary goal of this project is to create a conservation strategy for hammerhead shark nursery areas in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
The threatened status of the scalloped hammerhead shark has been recently elevated to Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List, which highlights the need for greater conservation effort for this species. It s very important to identify the main habitats for the hammerhead shark nursery areas, in order to help protect them and understand what threats they may be facing. Monitoring their nursery areas in Galapagos will give a better information of their actual population and may provide an opportunity to recover the regional population.
Given their potential for long distance movements in the region, all the efforts to conserve the hammerhead sharks in Galapagos will represent an support for the conservation of this population throughout the Eastern tropical Pacific region.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the World Heritage sites designed by the UNESCO, and one of the largest marine protected areas around the world. The scalloped hammerhead shark is the flagship species in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, which recently was established as marine sanctuary in part because of the high biomass of hammerhead sharks inhabiting the surrounding waters. Given the critically endangered listing of this species, scalloped hammerhead sharks require adequate management in each of their different life stages. Some potential nursery grounds have been identified within the coastal area of Galapagos Marine Reserve, and this project focuses on characterising them to help promote their protection. There is a need to establish whether these areas can be officially defined as nursery grounds, in order to develop a community-based conservation approach trough both education an communication strategies.
Lauran is attaching accelerometers to juvenile bull sharks in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida, USA. This will help her monitor their body movement and behaviour in response to harmful algal blooms (HABs) in an important nursery area for these sharks.
Working together with anglers in Florida, Jill and Hannah are trying to understand what the impact of catch-and-release recreational fishing is on Endangered great hammerhead sharks in Florida. Their findings will help draft better practices for the future.