Shark Savers have a nice overview of the role sharks play in maintaining ecosystem balance, but even more handy is the “Additional Resources” link at the bottom of the page where they cite all the references. A great starting point:
This is totally not a silly question.
I think it’s been the result of over a decade of active education and awareness campaigns. Teaching children the ecological importance of sharks, using celebrities to brand the practice untrendy, exposing the scale and brutality of the industry through undercover photojournalism, preventing transport by lobbying airlines not to carry fins as cargo.
It’s been slow growing progress, like any social change, but I think we’re seeing the tide turn on the harvesting of sharks for their fins. I’m not saying the problem is ok now, but that momentum against it is picking up pace.
Last week 70-odd of the world’s whale shark researchers converged on Atlanta for the 3rd International Whale Shark Conference. It was an unusual meeting in having so many exotic tropical countries represented in such a small group of delegates. Overall I’m happy to say it was a great
Read about the gaps in understanding the gargantuan and yet oddly mysterious whale shark. Indeed, where are all the ladies at?
Hong Kong’s government has announced it will stop serving shark fin and bluefin tuna at official functions!
“In a press release, the government said it was taking the step because the items “have aroused international and local concern because they are either captured or harvested in ecologically unfriendly or unsustainable ways, or cause other conservation concerns”.
After a decade of campaigning…but better late than never. This is on the heels of China’s decision to do the same, last year. Plus several airlines have banned the transport of the fins, making it harder for supply to meet demand. Hopefully we’ll see more of a domino effect across the region.
DEMON FISH by Washington Post national environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin .
August 27, 2013
Polka-dotted and striped. Massive but docile. That’s the whale shark for you - the largest fish and shark in the world. But despite being major tourist attractions, the lives of these awe-inspiring creatures of the ocean remain far from being demystified.
However, a team of researchers from Australia may now have some answers to where these whale sharks (Rhinocodon typus) occur. They have, for the first time, predicted the current global distribution of these sharks across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, and have also predicted where they could occur in the future.
In the new study published in Global Change Biology, the team collected 4,336 records of shark sightings from fisheries records over several years - 31 years for the Atlantic Ocean, 17 years for the Indian Ocean and 11 years for western Pacific Ocean.
The team then put together environmental variables (such as distance to shore, mean depth, and sea surface temperature), which they believe affect the shark’s distribution. Using these variables and the shark sightings, they developed models to predict where the sharks could currently occur. They also used climate projections for 2070, when climate change is expected to raise water temperatures by an average 2°C, to see if climate change will affect their distributions in the future.
Their results show that currently areas with highest suitability occur in the Atlantic Ocean, followed by the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.
The populations of whale sharks might also be globally connected, the authors write. For example, their predictions show that the sharks might be able to cross over from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, south of South Africa. The models also indicate the presence of a ‘corridor’ of suitable habitat that links the eastern and western Pacific.
The Daily Show: Sharks, Lies and Videotape
“Discovery owes viewers a Megalopology”
Secrets of Whale Shark Migration Revealed:
Published August 21, 2013
The world’s biggest fish are hungry migrators on a mission, according to a tracking study that mapped whale sharks’ long journeys around the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean to a favorite feeding hot spot off the Yucatan Peninsula.
And one whale shark’s incredible 5,000-mile (7,200-kilometer) swim could even help solve the long-standing mystery of where whale sharks give birth—an event no scientist has ever seen.
[The data] could help answer a question that has plagued whale shark researchers for years: Where are all the females? Quintana Roo is more than 70 percent male, and other global aggregations show the same gender imbalance.
"You can’t have a stable population with that many males. You don’t see that in nature," Hueter said.
"The females have to be somewhere, and we hypothesize that mature, pregnant females undergo long migrations to the middle of the ocean, near seamounts or remote islands … and that’s where they give birth," Hueter explained. "In coastal zones where the feeding aggregations are, their young-which are less than two feet long at birth—might be subject to higher predation."
He added, “We feel good about the hypothesis, but it’s out there to be tested. So now we’ll have to see if it’s proven right in the years to come.”
I would faint if I was stuck in the middle of this.
out of happiness, yes
I require an unflappable dive buddy to ensure I don’t drop my regulator when my jaw drops.