Sally is working with local researchers and communities in the Palawan province to produce a film that will advance protection of the Philippines’ natural heritage. Her focus is on sharks and rays in the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion. The Sulu Sea, where the film is set, is both a site of incredible marine diversity and one of the region’s key fishing grounds. Sally will bring to communities stories of one of the world’s largest shark aggregations at Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, the whale sharks and feeding aggregations of oceanic manta rays at Honda Bay, visions of Cagayancillio (the country’s largest marine protected area), and a newly-discovered reef manta ray cleaning station.
I am a conservationist and filmmaker, and an executive director of the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines, the largest NGO dedicated to the conservation of marine megafauna and their environment in the Philippines. As a passionate science communicator, I have worked with the BBC, National Geographic Channel, S4C, and PTS in diverse roles from associate producer, undercover filmmaker, and self-shooting presenter to a fixer for blue-chip series. I believe in conservation filmmaking as a tool for behavioral change and delivering stories that connect people and the environment. Although I started my career in conservation as a...
To conserve sharks and rays in Palawan, Philippines, by enhancing local knowledge, community participation and government support through the production and screening of a 30-minute film and through an interactive impact campaign.
Shark and ray populations have declined throughout South-East Asia and, despite international and national protection for many species, are still being harvested locally by both commercial and small-scale fisheries every day, further driving the few remaining populations into local extinction. This campaign brings awareness of priority sites for sharks and rays identified in the province of Palawan to increase the buy-in of local communities and politicians to ensure these areas are protected.
Sharks are virtually absent on many of Asia’s coral reefs and the Philippines is no exception. Over a century of targeted and untargeted fishing, followed by direct exploitation in the 1980s and ’90s and a currently oversaturated open-access industry, has depleted Philippine waters. Even when sharks are not directly targeted, results from a rapid by-catch assessment conducted across the province of Palawan have revealed alarming rates of illegal and unreported shark and ray by-catch in small-scale fisheries. Despite this, there are a few glimmers of hope for the future of these species. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a large, long-established and remote protected area, is an extraordinary site for reef sharks, hosting some of the highest densities recorded worldwide. However, research in the park has shown that even large reef-associated elasmobranchs like adult grey reef sharks, reef manta rays and tiger sharks make large-scale movements and need multiple specifically designed protected areas to ensure their survival. Meanwhile, the development of tourism in internationally important feeding sites for whale sharks and cleaning stations for manta rays are posing potential new threats to these species. The passing and implementation of legislation to protect four priority habitats is urgent to safeguard the future of elasmobranchs. This project will raise awareness about the value of sharks and rays and the threats they are facing and will identify and promote the removal of barriers to ensure their conservation in the province of Palawan, taking insight from Rare’s Principles of Pride and Theory of Change Model. The campaign will increase the buy-in of communities and government to protective measures for sharks and rays by producing and screening a 30-minute film that is expected to increase knowledge, shift attitudes and encourage communication and consultations with local stakeholders to identify barriers and solutions to protective measures.
This project uses a holistic approach to ensure the conservation of elasmobranchs in the province of Palawan in the Philippines by:
Outside the USA, The Bahamas is the only place where Critically Endangered smalltooth sawfish can reliably be found. Tristan wants to ensure that protection measures in The Bahamas are understood and enforced as far as sawfish are concerned to close the current gap between policy and the people. He’ll be using aerial surveys, sonar and BRUVs, combined with interviews that draw on local knowledge, to identify essential sawfish habitats that need protection. Engaging with the community through workshops and by training students and meeting with government, Tristan intends to advocate for smalltooth sawfish protection throughout The Bahamas’ territorial waters.
Steven and Kevin are using genetic techniques to understand how Caribbean reef shark populations are connected across the extent of their range. Populations of this Endangered shark are in decline generally, but where they are managed and there is effective protection, their numbers are stable. With the integration of the correct information, Steven and Kevin are convinced that we can give Caribbean reef sharks a better shot at recovery and population stabilisation. They will also explore any barriers to connectivity, looking to the future recruitment and recovery of these sharks.
With very little information available about Endangered sicklefin devil rays, their seasonal aggregations at sea mounts in the Azores give Sophie an opportunity to learn more about their lives. She will be collecting satellite-tracking data that show how they move in the Azores’ exclusive economic zone. The information she collects will be used to develop maps of how the rays are using the zone and to identify essential areas that multiple species use. With this information at hand, Sophie hopes her work can contribute to a network of marine protected areas.