epic tiger shark diving expeditions
shark research tagging

New Study examines the effects of catch-and-release fishing on sharks

It’s well known that sport fishing for sharks represents a minor threat to their preservation when compared to the commercial fishing efforts. This study by the folks at UM does make some interesting findings, and again seems to ignite concern of the idea of sport fishing for sharks. It is now know that many of the animals will not survive their struggle on a fishing line and may die during or shortly after their release.

“Our results show that while some species, like tiger sharks, can sustain and even recover from minimal catch and release fishing, other sharks, such as hammerheads are more sensitive”

Knowing this, it seems irresponsible to allow sport fishing for sharks. Since some of those animals will die, there can be no justification in this. Should we be allowed to kill something for our own sport? I should hope everyone would agree that that’s a barbaric concept and quite arrogant of people. We cannot hunt the apex animals from their environment simply for our own entertainment.

If your not into reading the entire study, have a look at the video below.

You can find the full details here: New Study examines the effects of catch-and-release fishing on sharks | The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami

Read about another catch-and-release shark involved in a study.


Rare Shark Performs “Virgin Births”—First Known in The Wild

The Smalltooth Sawfish is considered one of the world’s most endangered species! These sharks can grow to a length of 20 feet. It is estimated that their population numbers are down to less than 5% of what it had been before the European settlement in the US.

The endangered smalltooth sawfish, found in the Atlantic Ocean, can produce young without having sex first, a new study finds.

Andrew Fields, a geneticist at Stony Brook University, recently noted that seven animals had DNA from only one parent while searching through a database of 190 sawfish tagged in southwestern Florida between 2004 and 2013. Virgin birth is known as parthenogenesis. Researchers are now curious to learn whether or not these animals will be able to produce offspring themselves, but the sawfish won’t reach sexual maturity until around 7 years of age.

Read the full story here: Rare Fish Performs “Virgin Births”—First Known in The Wild

hammerhead sharks

New Galápagos Sanctuary Has World’s Highest Abundance of Sharks

Exciting news out of Ecuador! The Galapagos Islands will now have some protection against fishing.

galapagos sanctuary

Upon creation of the sanctuary, Correa said, “The Galápagos Islands have extraordinary ecological value, and also economic value. The government of Ecuador supports the creation of a marine sanctuary to leave an inheritance to our children and our children’s children; a wonderful world where as many species as possible are preserved for the enjoyment and knowledge of future generations.”

Read the full story from National Geographic here: New Galápagos Sanctuary Has World’s Highest Abundance of Sharks

killer whale seaworld

SeaWorld announces end to captive orca whale breeding

Great News from SeaWorld CEO

Joel Manby, President and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, was joined by Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States on Fox News to discuss the phasing out of SeaWorld’s captive Orca breeding program. Sparking tons of controversy, the film Blackfish has brought so much public awareness of the problem that the company has no choice but to admit that these large, nomadic, majectic animals do not belong in captivity. SeaWorld has not captured Orcas from the wild for decades and all recent additions to the herd have come from captive breeding. The current Orcas will remain in their care at the three SeaWorld parks but will shifted from the theatrical/entertainment shows to more educational programs. They’re expected to live for decades more so the Orcas will remain a part of SeaWorld’s attraction for some time. Take a look at the news report here:

In a statement, SeaWorld Entertainment said that the current generation of orcas in its care would not be replaced. The statement added that the company would replace its popular theatrical shows featuring killer whales with “new, inspiring, natural orca encounters … as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals.”

Read the full story here: SeaWorld announces end to captive orca whale breeding | Fox News

Read about the challenges with Great White Sharks in captivity.

tiger shark at tiger beach bahamas

Study says Marine Protected Areas can benefit large sharks

Dr. Hammerschlag’s lab at the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science just published new findings that suggest the expansion of protected areas into U.S. federal waters would safeguard 100% of core home range areas used by three species of sharks tracked in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including tiger sharks, bull sharks, and great hammerhead sharks.

Here’s a great video put together by the talented folks at Waterlust

The Bahamas declared a ban on all commercial shark fishing in its more than 650,000 square kilometers (251,000 square miles) of waters under their federal EEZ recently in 2011. The state of Florida enacted new measures the next year to fully protect four shark species, including tiger and great hammerhead sharks, by prohibiting their harvest and possession in state waters. These new findings have important implications for marine conservation and spatial planning, such as to better evaluate the effectiveness of current, and placement of future MPAs, according to the researchers.

“Our results will help enable policy makers to make more informed decisions when developing conservation plans for these species, particularly when considering a place-based management approach,” said UM Rosenstiel School alumna Fiona Graham, the lead author of the study.

Here’s where to find the full article: Use of marine protected areas and exclusive economic zones in the subtropical western North Atlantic Ocean by large highly mobile sharks

Take a look at these interesting research articles:

Interesting Shark Study in the Bahamas

Prelim Research: North Carolina Attacks

Don’t bite the hand that feeds

SeaWorld announces end to captive orca whale breeding

NOAA 2015 Coastal Shark Survey

great hammerhead shark

Hammerhead pitstop « Save Our Seas Foundation

We recently came across this article written by Tristan Guttridge at the Bimini Biological Field Station explaining how some of the tagging takes place with the Great Hammerheads in Bimini, Bahamas. Bimini is undoubtedly the best place to encounter the Great Hammerhead Sharks and has seen a recent boom in dive related tourism. Here’s Tristan’s explanation of the tagging process:

In short, by using a basic float-fishing technique taught to us by an ex-commercial shark fisherman in Florida. After mastering this method, with his guidance, we are now able to capture, tag and safely release a great hammerhead shark in less than 15 minutes. This is how we do it:

  • 0 minutes: Once hooked, the hammerhead typically swims away, diving into deeper water (where available) and towing our set-up of giant buoys. The shark’s powerful turns and deep dives cause the buoys to submerge under the waves.
  • 3 minutes: We intuitively ‘feel’ the shark moving through the water column and give it more line to manoeuvre and even dive if it wants to. Then we slowly and carefully haul in the line and after a few minutes the sensitive hammerhead reaches our boat, not in a state of exhaustion.
  • 6 minutes: Once it is alongside our vessel, we point the shark into the current to ensure that water is flowing through its gills and supplying maximum oxygenation. One member of the team then holds the hammerhead’s dorsal fin to provide stability while others gently secure its tail and pectoral fins with ropes.
  • 10 minutes: Another team member gently but firmly holds the shark’s head to prevent eye damage and to help turn the shark slowly over into tonic immobility so that it is calm and ready for a research ‘work-up’. Length measurements (nose to fork) are quickly taken and a 10-year acoustic tracking device is surgically implanted. Two small fin clips are then taken for DNA and stable isotope (diet) analysis.
  • 13 minutes: On completion of the work-up, the shark is turned right side up, a miniature microchip PIT tag is inserted for long-term identification and an external tag (NMFS; National Marine Fishery Service) is placed on the shark for visual observations.
  • 15 minutes: Finally, the hook is removed and the shark is released with strong push to set it on its way.
  • For example, of the great hammerheads caught in commercial, bottom-longline fisheries in the north-western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico between 1994 and 2005, 90% were dead by the time they were brought alongside the fishing vessel. This vulnerability makes hammerheads as a group very difficult to work with and they are therefore poorly studied.

    For the full article and more photos, read Hammerhead pitstop « Save Our Seas Foundation

    shark finning

    Removal of Sharks Has Far Reaching Impacts on the Environment

    The decline of sharks will cut short our supply of seafood and affect human survival. This is a matter of food security, and if the present trade of sharks continues, businesses will exhaust supply of fins and of sharks forever. 

    “The current exploitation of sharks is simply not sustainable. Sharks cannot reproduce fast enough to cope with the high demand and many shark populations are on the verge of collapse,” Chitra explained. 

    Source: Removal of Sharks Has Far Reaching Impacts on the Environment and Food Supply

    shark fin soup

    Restaurants Serving Shark Fin Soup | Animal Welfare Institute

    shark fin soup

    Many shark populations have faced steep declines due to years of exploitation. Their slow reproductive rates make them extremely vulnerable to extinction. The disappearance of sharks – apex predators in many ecosystems – causes dangerous imbalances in marine communities worldwide.

    If you see shark fin products in a state where there is currently a ban (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington), please report it by contacting us so that we can verify and then add it to our list or point you to the proper oversight agency.

    Read the full article, find the list of restaurants and learn more at: Restaurants Currently Offering Shark Fin Soup | Animal Welfare Institute

    NOAA 2015 Coastal Shark Survey

    The Coastal Shark Research Survey began in 1989 and covers the waters along the east coast from Delaware to Florida. The research groups goes out every two to three years, beginning in the winter and spring months in the south, following the migratory route of sharks north as the waters warm up.

    This year, 2,835 sharks were caught during the survey, compared to the 1,831 sharks from the prior survey conducted in 2012. Thirteen different species were found with the most common being Dusky, Sandbar, and Atlantic sharpnose and Tiger sharks. Sandbar sharks were all along the coast, while most of the dusky sharks were off North Carolina. This year’s study was also the first time a bull shark had been caught since 2001. They recaptured 10 sharks previously tagged by their program and two sharks tagged by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

    The longest running coastal shark research survey along the East Coast has completed its 2015 field work, capturing and tagging more than 2,800 sharks, the most in the survey’s 29-year history. The results are very good news for shark populations.

    east coast shark tagging

    The surveys are conducted in the 5-40 fathom (30 to 240 feet) depth zone with most sampling between 11-20 fathoms (66 to 120 feet deep) and use commercial Florida-style bottom longline fishing methods to standardize survey results. This method uses a long, or main, line with baited shark hooks spaced at regular intervals along the line.

    Most (2,179, or 77 percent) of the sharks captured were tagged and released, 434 (15.3 percent) were brought aboard, and 222 (7.8 percent) were released untagged or lost. Researchers record the length, sex, and location of each animal caught. Environmental information, such as water temperature and ocean chemistry, was also obtained at each station.

    “Sharks are very vulnerable. Even though they are at the top of the oceanic food chain and can live for decades, they are fragile in the sense that compared to other fish they grow very slowly, reproduce late in life and have only a few offspring,” said Karyl Brewster-Geisz of NOAA Fisheries Office of Highly Migratory Species. “An increase in the numbers caught and tagged during each survey indicates a slow climb back. It is very good news for shark populations and for the ecosystem.”

    noaa shark survey

    Shark Survey Summary

      • 2,835 sharks caught
      • Atlantic sharpnose, dusky, sandbar, and tiger sharks
      • Three great whites caught, all less than 8 feet
      • Largest shark caught was a 12.5 foot tiger shark
      • First bull shark caught since 2001
      • 77% (2,179) of sharks were caught, tagged and released
      • 15.3% (434) sharks were brought aboard the research vessel
      • 7.8% (222) sharks were released untagged or lost

    Source: 2015 Coastal Shark Survey Reveals Shark Populations Improving off U.S. East Coast

    bahamas marine protected area

    Bahamas Expands Marine Protected Areas

    Bahamas marine protected areas
    The Bahamas has significantly expanded its network of marine protected areas. On August 31, 2015, the Hon. Kenred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment and Housing, announced the creation of 15 new parks and three park expansions, comprising over 11 million acres in total.

    Protected areas constitute an important stock of natural, cultural and social capital, yielding flows of economically valuable goods and services that benefit society, secure livelihoods, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

    Read the full story here: Caribbean: Bahamas Expands Marine Protected Areas | The Nature Conservancy