Research on sharks has been slow and inconsistent. There are two main reasons; one is the remoteness and inherent dangers and difficulties of studying sharks in their natural habitat, and two, the lack of funding. However, we are beginning to understand sharks and their behavior, where sharks go and why they go there. For example, satellite tagging of whale sharks has demonstrated that this species can be highly migratory traveling across ocean basins. Knowing that a species is highly migratory means it more susceptible to fisheries in areas where it is not protected. Acoustic tags have also been used to study sharks in a particular area to determine their residency status. Acoustic tags are attached to the sharks and receivers are placed on the sea floor so that when a shark with an acoustic tag gets close, the receiver stores the data transmitted by the tag.
It is important to not only understand shark migratory patterns, but to also identify nursery areas where sharks go to give birth. Marine protected areas (MPAs) must be established to protect these nursery areas so that the young sharks have a chance of surviving to adulthood.
Both satellite and acoustic tags can be equipped to record depth, temperature and location information. This kind of science requires a tremendous amount of money, and this money is usually not available unless the end results could lead to useful applications and profits. Research into sharks for their own sake is more difficult to fund. However, this is essential for their survival. The scientific data is needed to back-up any conservation argument.
From Research to Conservation
Since our inception, Fins Attached has been focused on research. The reason is quite simple. The research and the data collected is what drives the conservation agenda. The data needs to be presented to government authorities and agencies as essential information to affect international conservation policies. International cooperation is critical to our mission of preventing the extinction of sharks.
Fins Attached co-authored publications:
- 2019: Residency and diel movement patterns of the endangered scalloped hammerhead Sphyrna lewini in the Revillagigedo National Park.
- 2019: Isotopic niche and resource sharing among young sharks (Carcharodon carcharias and Isurus oxyrinchus) in Baja California, Mexico.
- 2019: First record of the reef manta ray, Mobula alfredi, from the eastern Pacific.
- 2019: New Nursery Area for White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
- 2019: Movements of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) at Cocos Island, Costa Rica and between oceanic islands in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
- 2019: Southernmost record of the white shark Carcharodon carcharias (Chondrichthyes: Lamnidae) in the Mexican Pacific.
- 2019: The surface behaviour of white sharks during ecotourism: A baseline for monitoring this threatened species around Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
- 2018: Future Research Directions on the “Elusive” White Shark.
- 2018: First observation on the mating behaviour of the marbled ray, Taeniurops meyeni, in the tropical Eastern Pacific.
- 2017: Range expansion of the whitenose shark, Nasolamia velox, and migratory movements to the oceanic Revillagigedo Archipelago (west Mexico).
- 2016: Contrasts in the movements and habitat use of juvenile and adult white sharks
(Carcharodon carcharias) at Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
- 2016: Deep-water feeding and behavioral plasticity in Manta birostris revealed by archival tags and submersible observations.
- 2015: Subsurface observations of white shark Carcharodon carcharias predatory behaviour using an autonomous underwater vehicle.
- 2014: Ontogenetic migration of a female scalloped hammerhead shark Sphyrna lewini in the Gulf of California.