epic tiger shark diving expeditions
national marine monument in th atlantic

Obama Creates First Marine Park in Atlantic

President Barack Obama recently created the first marine national monument in the Atlantic, which will prohibit commercial fishing in a series of deep canyons and extinct undersea volcanoes that lie more than 150 miles off southern New England, along and beyond the continental shelf. The marine park totals 4,900 square miles and will now constitute a no-take zone.

first atlantic marine park

The first national monument in the Atlantic will protect deep canyons along the continental shelf and a chain of extinct undersea volcanoes.


“The notion that the ocean I grew up with is not something I can pass on to my kids and my grandkids is unacceptable. It’s unimaginable,” Obama said in announcing the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument at the State Department’s Our Ocean conference in Washington, D.C. “Dangerous changes in our climate caused mainly by human activity, dead zones in our ocean caused mainly by pollution that we create here on land, unsustainable fishing practices, unprotected marine areas in which rare species and entire ecosystems are at risk. All those things are happening now. They’ve been happening for a long time. So if we’re going to leave our children with oceans like the ones that were left to us, we’re going to have to act and we’re going to have to act boldly.”

This comes just weeks after President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northwestern islands of Hawaii to more than half a million square miles—the largest protected area anywhere on Earth.

Read the full story here: Obama Creates Connecticut-Size Ocean Park, First in Atlantic

Read about Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act Passes U.S. House

cites sharks and rays

Sharks and rays high on CITES #CoP17 agenda | CITES

CITES regulates international trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

Press Release

Geneva 16 September 2016: South Africa, home to one quarter of the world’s 400+ shark species, will this month host the triennial meeting of the World Wildlife Conference where strengthened protection for sharks and rays will again be high on the agenda.

Delegates from over 180 countries attending the meeting – also known as CITES #CoP17 – will receive updates on actions taken following CoP16 in Bangkok, where five shark species, namely the oceanic white tip, porbeagle and three species of hammerhead, and all manta rays were given protection under CITES Appendix II, with trade in these species now being regulated to prevent over-exploitation.

At CITES #CoP17 Parties will be asked to consider three more proposals to bring sharks and rays under CITES trade controls, namely to include:

  • Silky shark Carcharhinus falciformis in Appendix II
  • Thresher sharks Alopias spp. in Appendix II
  • Devil rays Mobula spp. in Appendix II

Read the press release here: Sharks and rays high on CITES #CoP17 agenda | CITES


shark meat and fin toxins

Shark Fins & Meat Contain High Levels of Neurotoxins

shark meat fins neurotoxins

In a new study, University of Miami (UM) scientists found high concentrations of toxins linked to neurodegenerative diseases in the fins and muscles of 10 species of sharks. The research team suggests that restricting consumption of sharks can have positive health benefits for consumers and for shark conservation, since several of the sharks analyzed in the study are threatened with extinction due to overfishing.

The species sampled for this study were the:

  • Blacknose shark (Carharhinus acronotus)
  • Blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus)
  • Bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo)
  • Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
  • Great Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
  • Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris)
  • Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirraum)
  • Atlantic Sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae)
  • Smooth Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena)
  • Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)

The two toxins analyzed were Mercury and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) which have been linked in recent studies to both Alzheimer’s disease and ALS.

Find the full article and link to the scientific publication here: Study Finds Shark Fins & Meat Contain High Levels of Neurotoxins Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease | The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami

silky shark oceanic whitetip shark

Pew Applauds Expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

The Pew Charitable Trusts joins partners in Hawaii and the scientific community in praising today’s announcement by President Barack Obama that the United States has expanded the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, also known as Papahānaumokuākea, to 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers).

marine protected area expansion in Hawaiipresident Obama marine protected area of HawaiiHONOLULU—

Source: Pew Applauds Expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

shark school conservation

Sharks: 21 Fast Facts About Conservation and Global Threats | Pew

  • Sharks play a vital role in marine ecosystems, helping to maintain a balance that’s critical for commercially important fisheries. But they are also one of the most misunderstood creatures in the world’s oceans — the odds of experiencing a shark attack are just 1 in 11.5 million.
  • Learn more about the global threat posed by the shark fin trade, as well as conservation efforts including shark sanctuaries in Palau, the Maldives, Honduras, The Bahamas, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau.

For more information, visit: http://www.pewenvironment.org/sharks

shark school conservation

shark fin trade

International Shark Finning Bans and Policies

From The Animal Welfare Institute

Some countries/jurisdictions have enacted full or partial bans on the practice of shark finning—slicing off the fins of the shark at sea (often while the shark is still alive) and discarding the carcass. Still other country/jurisdictions have taken the additional step of enacting complete or partial bans on shark fishing (such that, by inclusion, shark finning is also banned). Some airlines, hotels, and other companies have also refused to transport, serve or sell shark fin products. Information on which jurisdictions and companies have (or in some cases, have not) taken steps to ban shark finning/fishing are listed below.

Countries/jurisdictions with full or partial bans on shark finning

  • Canada/British Columbia (1994–2012) finning bans implemented in various cities throughout Canada and British Columbia
  • Oman (1998) sharks must be landed, transported, sold or disposed of whole
  • South Africa (1998) sharks must be landed, transported, sold or disposed of whole
  • New South Wales, Australia (1999) no finning in NSW coastal waters; sharks may not be taken on board any vessel without fins naturally attached
  • United Arab Emirates (1999) sharks must be landed whole
  • Spain (2002) no fins on board without the corresponding carcasses
  • Namibia (2003) no finning
  • Gambia (2004) no finning in territorial waters
  • Nicaragua (2004) no fin exports without proof that the meat was sold
  • Costa Rica (2006) former “fins attached” requirement reinstated (cancelling a 2003 policy that allowed sharks to be landed without their fins)
  • Seychelles (2006) no removal of fins on board vessel unless granted authorization
  • El Salvador (2009) no finning in territorial waters
  • Panama (2006) no finning in territorial waters
  • Colombia (2007) sharks must be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies
  • Sierra Leone (2008) no finning
  • Argentina (2009) may not retain fins and discard carcasses
  • Guinea (2009) no finning in territorial waters
  • United Kingdom (2009) no removal of shark fins at sea by any UK vessel worldwide
  • Honduras (2010) no finning
  • Chile (2011) sharks must be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies
  • Taiwan (2012) all sharks be landed with fins naturally attached
  • Brazil (2012) sharks be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies
  • Venezuela (2012) sharks be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies
  • The Republic of Malta (2012) sharks must be landed whole
  • European Union (2013) no finning by any vessel in EU waters or by any EU-registered vessel worldwide
  • Hong Kong (2013) no shark fin soup at government functions
  • India (2013) sharks must be landed with fins attached to their bodies
  • China (2013) no shark fin dishes at official government functions
  • British Virgin Islands (2014) no sale, possession, or distribution of shark fin products
  • New Zealand (2014) no finning in territorial waters

This list was comprised in conjunction with WildLifeRisk, and with the help of resources from the Humane Society International.

Countries/jurisdictions with full or partial bans on shark fishing (such that shark finning is also banned)

  • Israel (1980) no shark fishing
  • Congo-Brazzaville (2001) no shark fishing
  • Ecuador (2004) no direct shark fishing in Ecuadorian waters, but sharks caught elsewhere may be landed in Ecuador
  • Egypt (2005) no shark fishing and commercial sale of sharks
  • French Polynesia (2006) no shark fishing, with exception of Mako sharks
  • Mexico (2007) no finning; (2011) no shark fishing from May to August
  • Guinea-Bissau (2008) no shark fishing in marine protected areas
  • Palau (2009) no shark fishing
  • Honduras (2010) no shark fishing
  • The Republic of Maldives (2010) no shark fishing
  • The Marshall Islands (2010 no commercial shark fishing or sale of shark products
  • Indonesia (2010) no shark fishing in Raja Ampat
  • The Cook Islands (2012) no commercial shark fishing, sale, or trade of shark products
  • The Bahamas (2011) no commercial fishing, sale, or trade in shark products
  • Marshall Islands (2011) no commercial shark fishing or sale of shark products
  • Tokelau Islands(2011) no shark fishing in territorial waters
  • Sabah, Malaysia (2011) no shark fishing, no possession and sale of fins
  • Brunei (2013) no harvest and importation of shark products
  • Fiji (2013) no shark fishing
  • UK Virgin Islands (2014) no commercial fishing of sharks or rays
  • United Arab Emirates (2014) no shark fishing from February 1 to June 30 and banned all imports and exports of shark products
  • Kiribati (2015) no commercial fishing in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and Southern Line Islands

This list was comprised with the help of resources from the Humane Society International.

Companies that have banned shark fin soup

  • Hong Kong Disneyland (2005)
  • Amazon (2007)
  • Carrefour, NTUC Fairprice, Cold Storage—three major supermarket chains in Singapore (2011)
  • Peninsula Hotels Group (owned by Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd.) (2011)
  • Shangri-la Hotel chain (2012)
  • Westin Macau (2012)
  • Fairmont Hotels Group (2012)
  • 23 luxury hotels in Thailand—as part of the “Fin Free Thailand” program (2013); several US-owned hotels participate in this program, including Four Seasons (Bangkok, Tented Camp, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui), and the JW Marriott (Phuket)
  • Starwood Hotels and Resorts (includes Westin USA, Sheraton, Le Meridien, and Four Points) (2014)
  • Marriott Hotel Group (2014)
  • Hilton Hotels (2014)
  • Melia Hotels—Spain’s biggest hotel chain (2014)
  • Labau Hotels in Thailand (2014)

Major hotels that continue to serve shark fin soup include

  • Ritz Carlton-Hong Kong
  • Nikko hotels throughout Asia (headquartered in Japan)
  • Regal Hotels in Hong Kong
  • Prince Hotels and Resorts in Japan
  • InterContinental Group, a UK-based company

This list was comprised in conjunction with WildLifeRisk.

shark finning fins

View the Animal Welfare Institute’s website here

shark fins for soup

Shark Crimes: How DNA Helps Fight Fin Trade

Humans kill some 100 million sharks annually, largely for shark fin soup. Some shark species, like the oceanic whitetip, have declined up to 99 percent.

To find out how new trade restrictions are affecting the global shark fin trade, shark geneticist Demian Chapman is using DNA to get an accurate picture of how they’re caught and traded, as well as the role they play in our oceans.

“The same techniques that are used for solving crimes,” said Chapman, a Pew marine fellow, “are the exact same ones we use to solve crimes involving wildlife.”

Click here for more information on Chapman’s shark work.

shark fishing nets

Read about PEW fighting for Sharks

shark fins

The Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 2016

  2d Session
                                S. 3095

        To prohibit sale of shark fins, and for other purposes.


                             June 23, 2016

 Mr. Booker (for himself, Mrs. Capito, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. McCain, Ms. 
 Cantwell, and Ms. Murkowski) introduced the following bill; which was 
  read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 

                                 A BILL

        To prohibit sale of shark fins, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 


    (a) Prohibition.--Except as provided in section 3, no person shall 
possess, trade, distribute, ship, transport, offer for sale, sell, 
purchase, import, or export shark fins or products containing shark 
    (b) Penalty.--For purposes of section 308(a) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1858(a)), a 
violation of this section shall be treated as an act prohibited by 
section 307 of that Act (16 U.S.C. 1857).


    A person may possess a shark fin that was taken lawfully under a 
State, territorial, or Federal license or permit to take or land 
sharks, if the shark fin is separated from the shark in a manner 
consistent with the license or permit and is--
            (1) destroyed or discarded;
            (2) retained by the license or permit holder for a 
        noncommercial purpose;
            (3) used for noncommercial subsistence purposes in 
        accordance with State or territorial law; or
            (4) used solely for display or research purposes by a 
        museum, college, or university, or other person under a State 
        or Federal permit to conduct noncommercial scientific research.


    In this Act:
            (1) Import.--The term ``import'' has the same meaning that 
        term has under section 3 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
        Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1802).
            (2) Shark.--The term ``shark''--
                    (A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), means 
                any species of the subclass Elasmobranchii; and
                    (B) does not include--
                            (i) any stock of the species Mustelus canis 
                        (smooth dogfish) or Squalus acanthias (spiny 
                        dogfish) which is managed pursuant to a fishery 
                        management plan prepared under section 303 of 
                        the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
                        Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1853); or
                            (ii) any species in the superorder Batoidea 
                        that is managed pursuant to a fishery 
                        management plan prepared under section 303 of 
                        the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
                        Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1853).
            (3) Shark fin.--The term ``shark fin'' means the raw, 
        dried, or otherwise processed detached fin of a shark, or the 
        raw, dried, or otherwise processed detached tail of a shark.


    Nothing in this Act may be construed to preclude, deny, or limit 
any right of a State or territory to adopt or enforce any regulation or 
standard that is more stringent than a regulation or standard in effect 
under this Act.


shark fins

save the grouper

Nassau Grouper: Bahamas National Tust PSA

Bahamas National Trust Fact Sheet: Nassau Grouper

Epinephelus striatus

The Nassau Grouper belongs to the Seabass family of fish. All Seabass have strong, stout bodies and large mouths. Five dark brown bands, a black saddle-like spot near the tail fin, and a dark streak running from its nose through its eye are features that distinguish the Nassau Grouper from other groupers. The dorsal fin is notched between for ward spines. The Nassau Grouper can change colour from pale to almost black to match its surroundings. It can grow to 1 to 2 feet long and can reach a maximum of 4 feet and weigh fifteen pounds or more. Nassau Groupers may live for more than 25 years. The Nassau Grouper is a valuable fisheries re source and an important part of the coral reef community. The grouper is usually found in caves, crevices and cracks of the reef. It is rarely found deeper than 90 feet. This fi sh often rests on the sea bottom, blending with its surroundings. Nassau groupers are found through out the Caribbean Sea.

Nassau Groupers, like most Seabass are predators. They sit camouflaged out side the openings of caves, and wait for unsuspecting prey to swim by. They see well without much light, and often hunt at dawn and dusk when other fi sh are looking for shelter or waking up. Groupers eat many animals such as lobster, crab, octopus and shrimp.

Groupers spawn around the full moon during late December or early January after the seawater has begun to cool. They gather around banks by the thousands to spawn. Around this time they change colour: black on top and white on its belly. Spawning takes place at sunset when males and females move from the shallows and into deep water. Here they rise quickly to the surface in small groups releasing eggs and milt into the open sea. Males are often seen nudging the bellies of females as both sexes swim rapidly toward the surface. Spawning continues for several days following the occurrence of the full moon. Nassau grouper eggs are clear, less than 1 millimetre in diameter and they are buoyant. After they are fertilized they are carried away from the reef by the wind and tide. Within 20 – 45 hours baby fish called larvae hatch from these tiny eggs. After a month at sea, the ocean currents return the larvae to the reef. Of the million or so eggs released by each female, less than 1% will live and grow into adults. Nassau Groupers can begin life as a female and then switch to male. Change can hap pen at any time after maturity – when they reach 10 to 24 inches long and 5 – 6 years old. Male groupers are larger and thus targeted by fishermen. This can result in a shortage of sperm. In response to heavy fi sh ing pressure resulting in limited sperm, it is possible that a female may change to a male before reproducing as a female. In some groupers, there is no sex change.

There is a strong local market for the Nassau Grouper. Traditional dishes such as Boiled fish and Grouper fingers, keep the Nassau Grouper in high demand. The fishing of Groupers provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in income to fishermen around The Bahamas.

Nassau grouper is eaten by barracudas, lizard fish, dolphins, sharks and other large predators of the reef community. But the predators that have the biggest impact on the grouper population are humans. People are fishing groupers before they can grow to maturity and reproduce. Sex change may also cause a problem. In undisturbed areas there are usually equal numbers of male and females. In heavily fished areas there are often three or more times more females than males. This means many eggs will not be fertilized during spawning. Other threats include, habitat destruction, coral breakage from divers, siltation from construction, runoff from logging and agriculture, dredging, sewage, oil spills and other contaminants that harm coral reefs where Nassau Groupers live.

There are a number of measures that can be taken to protect and manage the Nassau grouper:

  • Establish Marine parks and Reserves where the fi shing of grouper is prohibited.
  • Establish a minimum harvestable size limit and enforce the minimum legal size for a grouper which is 3 pounds.
  • Protect spawning aggregation sites – because of fishing at these sites, groupers are susceptible to overfishing.
  • Develop alternative fishing strategies: encourage fishermen to catch other species of fish.
  • Support the Closed Season for Grouper during the designated dates (December – February).

For a downloadable PDF version of the fact sheet, visit the Bahamas National Trust’s website.  The Bahamas National Trust Co-hosts Caribbean Shark Conservation Symposium: Expanded regional shark protections discussed during meeting

save the grouper

say no to shark fin soup

Identifying Shark Fins

Take a look at this shark fin identification guide that was published by PEW in collaboration with Stony Brook University.

Download the publication here