This week SOSF scientists Dr. Rupert Ormond and Dr. Mauvis Gore join other shark researchers in the Cayman Islands to work with the Department of Environment on a collaborative project that aims to survey the islands’ elasmobranch and cetacean populations.
The team also includes Oliver Dubock, from Marine Conservation International, and Ed Brooks, SOSF project leader at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. Tim Austin, Deputy Director of the Department of Environment, said "We’re really excited to be working with this group of experts on these important issues. Sharks, as top-level predators in our marine environment are key components and we have very little reliable data or information on local species, populations and the pressures they face.
“Additionally through this project we hope to expand on local efforts to better understand what species of whales and dolphins use Cayman’s waters as part of their home ranges or as seasonal migratory routes, as currently very little are known."
Dr. Mauvis Gore, who is leading the team and also runs the SOSF basking shark project in the UK, emphasised the fact that many shark populations have experienced declines in excess of 90%, but that in the Cayman Islands the marine environment is better managed than many other areas, thereby providing hope that endangered species may find refuge from extinction in Cayman waters.
The project also aims to collaborate with local fishermen, dive operators and boat owners, who will be invited to share their knowledge and report any encounters they may have with sharks, whales and dolphins to the Department of Environment.
For more information on the project read the original report over at Cayman Islands Government site, and be sure to check out Mauvis’ ground breaking work on basking sharks, which has revealed stunning transatlantic migrations in this species between the UK and Canada for the first time.