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.

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

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

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

shark conservation wins

A Year of Shark-Conservation Wins

Countries around the world worked together on an unprecedented scale to prepare for implementation of new landmark shark protections that went into effect Sept. 14, 2014. Under these new rules, part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, global trade in sharks that are commercially exploited in large numbers is being regulated for the first time.

Source: A Year of Shark-Conservation Wins

state of the global market for shark products

State of the Global Market for Shark Products

A recent publication from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations provides a detailed and thorough reports of the world’s shark fin trade. In addition to the common notions of shark finning and shark fin soup, the 187 page report touches on all aspects of the global trade of shark/elasmobranch products such as livers or liver oil, shark or ray skin, cartilage, jaws or rostra, or manta or mobula gill rakers. It offers country specific data on import and export as well as economic implications of the trade.

The report is available in PDF form and can be viewed in it’s entirety.  Just click on the image below for a copy of the full publication and feel free to post your comments at the end of this blog.

state of the global market for shark products

Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

This publication focuses primarily on providing an updated picture of the world market for shark products using data that in many cases have only become available in recent years, such as origin and destination data. Where data are still lacking, an effort has been made to estimate the relevant figures through examination of the trade databases of the world’s major traders of shark products. This increased availability of data is believed to have allowed a more accurate – and up-to-date – initial evaluation of the relative importance of each country or territory, thus providing a more solid basis on which to target investigative efforts. The country-by-country assessments of shark fin trade recording practices also constitute another important area of focus that had not previously been addressed. However, given the primary objective of this study (above), those details that are necessarily not captured in such a broad-scale review will need to be identified and elucidated in regional or country-specific studies.


shark fin soup trade

Court of Appeals Upholds California Shark Fin Ban

shark fin soup trade

A bowl of Shark Fin Soup

Big news! Sharks will continue to receive protection under California state law. The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals just released an opinion upholding California’s shark fin ban as constitutional and not preempted by federal law. This is the first time a U.S. appellate court has weighed in conclusively on the issue of state shark fin laws, and it’s terrific to see the court coming down on the right side.

California’s shark fin ban was enacted in 2011 to end the consumption and trade of shark fins in the state, thereby weakening the market demand for fins and helping to protect shark populations. Shortly after the fin ban was passed, shark fin traders and dealers sued to invalidate the law, claiming that it was discriminatory against Chinese-Americans and was an “invalid burden on commerce.” They also tossed in an argument about preemption, claiming that California’s law conflicted with the federal fishery management statute, the Magnuson-Stevens Act. While this argument was just an afterthought at the time the case was filed, after three years and various twists and turns, it ended up being the central issue in the case.

Source: Court of Appeals Upholds California Shark Fin Ban | Seth Atkinson’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC