NEWSLETTER 03/2012 19. March 2012

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  • Dr. Susan M. Dippenaar, Department of Biodiversity, University of Limpopo, South Africa
  • Graham C. Kearn, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom 
  • Dr. Douglas J. Long, Senior Curator of Natural Sciences Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, USA
  • Pascal Geraghty, NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) & Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia
  • Jonah L. Yick, Inland Fisheries Service, New Norfolk, Australia
  • Austin J. Gallagher, Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Miami, USA (Homepage)
  • Chris Avila, Canadian Marine Aquaculture, Toronto, Canada
  • Savelyev, Volzhsky, Volgograd region, Russia 

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    Thanks to Chris Avila ( for the images of Hemiscyllium trispeculare! 

    Now images of the new species Bythaelurus giddingsi McCOSKER, LONG & BALDWIN, 2012 at shark-references ( © California Academy of Sciences) 


    New Album at facebook with more than 20 images: Fossil Sharks and Rays: All images of Roy Nohra, the fossils quarry owner in Hakel - Lebanon and fossil museum (

    Many thank's to Carlos Bustamante for the images of the rare Eastern Pacific Black Ghostshark!


    Please send your images of elasmobranchs to shark-references by e-mail!






    ANDREEV, P.S. & CUNY, G. 2012 New Triassic stem selachimorphs (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii) and their bearing on the evolution of dental enameloid in Neoselachii. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32 (2): 255-266

    DIEDRICH, C.G. 2012 Eocene (Lutetian) Shark-Rich Coastal Paleoenvironments of the Southern North Sea Basin in Europe: Biodiversity of the Marine Fürstenau Formation Including Early White and Megatooth Sharks. International Journal of Oceanography, 2012: 565326, 22 pages

    SANSOM, I.J. & DAVIES, N.S. & COATES, M.I. & NICOLL, R.S. & RITCHIE, A. 2012 Chondrichthyan-like scales from the Middle Ordovician of Australia. Palaeontology, 55 (2): 243-247

    YAMAGISHI, H. & FUJIMOTO, T. 2011 Chondrichthyan Remains from the Akasaka Limestone Formation (Middle Permian) of Gifu Prefecture, Central Japan. Bulletin of the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum. Natural Science, 40: 1-6 



    ALEXANDRE DE-FRANCO, B. & FERNANDES MENDONÇA, F. & OLIVEIRA, C. & FORESTI, F. 2012 Illegal trade of the guitarfish Rhinobatos horkelii on the coasts of central and southern Brazil: genetic identification to aid conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, in press

    ANDERSON, J. 2012 Putative magnetoreceptor innervation in two species of elasmobranch fish, Sphyrna lewini and Carcharhinus plumbeus. Abstract. In: 37th Annual Albert L. Tester Memorial Symposium, March 14 - 16, 2012, University of Hawaii at Manoa

    ASCHLIMANA, N.C. & NISHIDAB, M. & MIYAC, M. & INOUEB, J.G. & ROSANAD, K.M. & NAYLOR, G.J.P. 2012 Body plan convergence in the evolution of skates and rays (Chondrichthyes: Batoidea). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 63 (1): 28-42

    ATKINSON, C.J.L. & COLLIN, S.P. 2012 Structure and Topographic Distribution of Oral Denticles in Elasmobranch Fishes. Biological Bulletin, 222 (1): 26-34

    BARNES, D.W. 2012 Cell and molecular biology of the spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias and little skate Leucoraja erinacea: insights from in vitro cultured cells. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    BARNETT, L.A.K. & EBERT, D.A. & CAILLIET, G.M. 2012 Evidence of stability in a chondrichthyan population: case study of the spotted ratfish Hydrolagus colliei (Chondrichthyes: Chimaeridae). Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    BAŞUSTA, A. & OZER, E.I. & SULIKOWSKI, J.A. & BAŞUSTA, N. 2012 First record of a gravid female and neonate of the Lusitanian cownose ray, Rhinoptera marginata, from the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, in press

    BAŞUSTA, N. & SULIKOWSKI, J.A. 2012 The oldest estimated age for roughtail stingray [Dasyatis centroura (Mitchill, 1815)] from the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, in press

    BELLEGGIA, M. & FIGUEROA, D.E. & SANCHEZ, F. & BREMEC, C. 2012 Long-term changes in the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) trophic role in the southwestern Atlantic. Hydrobiologia, 684 (1): 57-67

    BIERY, L. & PAULY, D. 2012 A global review of species-specific shark-fin-to-body-mass ratios and relevant legislation. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    BOND, M.E. & BABCOCK, E.A. & PIKITCH, E.K. & ABERCROMBIE, D.L. & LAMB, N.F. & CHAPMAN, D.D. 2012 Reef Sharks Exhibit Site-Fidelity and Higher Relative Abundance in Marine Reserves on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE, 7 (2): e32983

    BOSWELL, L.A. 2012 Olfactory receptor neuron identification in the nasal epithelium of juvenile hammerhead sharks. Abstract. In: 37th Annual Albert L. Tester Memorial Symposium, March 14 - 16, 2012, University of Hawaii at Manoa

    BRACCINI, M. & VAN RIJN, J. & FRICK, L. 2012 High Post-Capture Survival for Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras Discarded in the Main Shark Fishery of Australia? PLoS ONE, 7 (2): e32547

    BUSTAMANTE, C. & FLORES, H. & CONCHA-PEREZ, Y. & VARGAS-CARO, C. & LAMILLA, J. & BENNETT, M. 2012 First record of Hydrolagus melanophasma James, Ebert, Long & Didier, 2009 (Chondrichthyes, Chimaeriformes, Holocephali) from the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 40 (1):  236-242

    CARLISLE, A.B. & KIM, S.L. & SEMMENS, B.X. & MADIGAN, D.J. & JORGENSEN, S.J. & PERLE, C.R. & ANDERSON, S.D. & CHAPPLE, T.K. & KANIVE, P.E. & BLOCK, B.A. 2012 Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Understand the Migration and Trophic Ecology of Northeastern Pacific White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). PLoS ONE, 7 (2): e30492

    CARLSON, J.K. OSBORNE, J. 2012 Relative Abundance of Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) Based on the Everglades National Park Creel Survey. NOAA Technical Memorandum, NMFS-SEFSC-626

    CARRERA-FERNÁNDEZ, M. & GALVÁN-MAGAÑA, F. & ESCOBAR-SANCHEZ, O. 2012 First record of Gorgona guitarfish Rhinobatos prahli from the Gulf of Tehuantepec, mexican Pacific. Marine Biodiversity Records, 5: e6

    CECCARELLI, D.M. & WILLIAMSON, D.H. 2012 Sharks that eat sharks: opportunistic predation by wobbegongs. Coral Reefs, in press

    CLAESON, K.M. & DEAN, M.N. 2011 Cartilaginous Fish Skeletal Anatomy. In: Farrell A.P., (ed.) Encyclopedia of Fish Physiology: From Genome to Environment, San Diego: Academic Press, 1: 419-427

    COMFORT, C. 2012 Movements and behavior of bluntnose sixgill sharks (Hexanchus griseus). Abstract. In: 37th Annual Albert L. Tester Memorial Symposium, March 14 - 16, 2012, University of Hawaii at Manoa

    DE MADDALENA, A. & HEIM, W. 2012 Mediterranean Great White Sharks. A Comprehensive Study Including All Recorded Sightings. McFarland, Jefferson, 254 pp. Softcover (7 x 10). 87 black and white photographs and drawings. ISBN: 978-0-7864-5889-9

    DEAN, M.N. 2011 Cartilaginous Fish Skeletal Tissues. In: Farrell A.P., (ed.) Encyclopedia of Fish Physiology: From Genome to Environment, San Diego: Academic Press, 1: 428-433

    DEAN, M.N. & SUMMERS, A.P. & FERRY, L.A. 2012 Very low pressures drive ventilatory flow in chimaeroid fishes. Journal of Morphology, in press

    DIPPENAAR, S.M. & JORDAAN, B.P. 2012 Notes on the morphology and ecology of the adult females of Nesippus species (Siphonostomatoida: Pandaridae) with a key for identification. Zootaxa, 3170: 18-30

    DOMEIER, M.L. 2012 Global Perspectives on the Biology and Life History of the White Shark. CRC Press - 567 Pages

    ELLIS, J.R. & MCCULLY, S.R. & BROWN, M.J. 2012 An overview of the biology and status of undulate ray Raja undulata in the north-east Atlantic Ocean. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    ENAJJAR, S. & BRADAI, M.N. & BOUAIN, A. 2012 Age, growth and sexual maturity of the blackchin guitarfish Rhinobatos cemiculus in the Gulf of Gabès (southern Tunisia, central Mediterranean). Cahiers de Biologie Marine, 53 (1): 17-23

    ESTALLES, M. & COLLER, N.M. & DI GIÁCOMO, E.E. & PERIER, M.R. 2011 Distribution and reproductive biology of the Electric ray Discopyge tschudii Heckel, 1846 in San Matías Gulf, Northern Patagonia, Argentina. Neotropical Ichthyology, 9 (4): 831-838 

    FITZPATRICK, J. & KEMPSTER, R.M. & DALY-ENGEL, T. & COLLIN, S.P. & EVANS, J. 2012 Postcopulatory sexual selection in elasmobranchs. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    GALLAGHER, A.J. & KYNE, P.M. & HAMMERSCHLAG, N. 2012 Ecological risk assessment and its application to elasmobranch conservation and management. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    GERAGHTY, P.T. & JONES, A.S. & STEWART, J. & MACBETH, W.G. 2012 Micro-computed tomography: an alternative method for shark ageing. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    GOURAGUINE, A. & HIDALGO, M. & MORANTA, J. & BAILEY, D.M. & ORDINES, F. & GUIJARRO, B. & VALLS, M. & BARBERA, C. & DE MESA, A. 2011 Elasmobranch spatial segregation in the western Mediterranean. Scientia Marina, 75 (4): 653-664

    HAMMERSCHLAG, N. & GALLAGHER, A.J. & WESTER, J. & LUO,J. & AULT, J.S. 2012 Don’t bite the hand that feeds: behavioral impacts of provisioning ecotourism on an apex marine predator. Functional Ecology, in press

    HEINRICHS, S. & O‘MALLEY, M. & MEDD, H. & HILTON, P. 2011 Manta Ray of Hope 2011 Report: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays. Manta Ray of Hope Project,  

    HUTCHINSON, M. & ANDERSON, J. & O’SULLIVAN, J. & HOLLAND, K.N. 2012 Dive behavior of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) in Hawaii. Abstract. In: 37th Annual Albert L. Tester Memorial Symposium, March 14 - 16, 2012, University of Hawaii at Manoa

    KEARN, G.C. 2011 Monogeneans – the ultimate fish parasites.  The Biologist, 58: 28-32  

    KEARN, G.C. & WHITTINGTON, I.D. & EVANS-GOWING, R. 2012 Spermatophores in Dermopristis cairae Whittington et Kearn, 2011 (Monogenea, Microbothriidae). Acta Parasitologica, 56 (4): 371-376

    KEMPSTER, R.M. & MCCARTHY, I.D. & COLLIN, S.P. 2012 Phylogenetic and ecological factors influencing the number and distribution of electroreceptors in elasmobranchs. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    KITCHEN-WHEELER, A.-M. & ARI, C. & EDWARDS, A.J. 2012 Population estimates of Alfred mantas (Manta alfredi) in central Maldives atolls: North Male, Ari and Baa. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 93 (4): 557-575

    KNIP, D.M. & HEUPEL, M.R. & SIMPFENDORFER, C.A. 2012 Habitat use and spatial segregation of adult spottail sharks Carcharhinus sorrah in tropical nearshore waters. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    LECLÈRE, F.M. & GERMAIN, M.A. & LEWBART, G.A. & UNGLAUB, F. & MORDON, S. & LOUIS, D. 2011 Microsurgery in liver research: end-to-side portocaval microanastomoses in dogfish. Clinics and Research in Hepatology and Gastroenterology, 35 (10): 650-654

    LEVIN, P.S. & HORNE, P. & ANDREWS, K.S. & WILLIAMS, G. 2012 An empirical movement model for sixgill sharks in Puget Sound: Combining observed and unobserved behavior. Current Zoology, 58 (1): 103-115

    LI, C. & MATTHES-ROSANA, K.A. & GARCIA, M. & NAYLOR, G.J.P. 2012 Phylogenetics of Chondrichthyes and the problem of rooting phylogenies with distant outgroups. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, in press

    MALPICA-CRUZ, L. & HERZKA, S.Z. & SOSA-NISHIZAKI, O. & LAZO, J.P. 2012 Tissue-specific isotope trophic discrimination factors and turnover rates in a marine elasmobranch: empirical and modeling results. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,  69 (3): 551-564

    MANOI, K. & ANDERSON, J. & DONACHIE, S. & HOLLAND, K.N. 2012 Investigating ecological connectivity between distinct elasmobranch populations using oral bacteria: A proof of concept study. Abstract. In: 37th Annual Albert L. Tester Memorial Symposium, March 14 - 16, 2012, University of Hawaii at Manoa

    MARTINHO, F. & SÁ, C. & FALCAO, J. & CABRAL, H.N. & PARDAL, M.A. 2012 Comparative feeding ecology of two elasmobranch species, Squalus blainville and Scyliorhinus canicula, off the coast of Portugal. Fishery Bulletin, 110 (1): 71-84

    MEYER, W. & SEEGERS, U. 2012 Basics of skin structure and function in elasmobranchs: a review Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    MNASRI, N. & EL KAMEL, O. & BOUMAÏZA, M. & REYNAUD, C. & CAPAPÉ, C. 2012 Food and feeding habits of the small-spotted catshark, Scyliorhinus canicula (Chondrichthyes : Scyliorhinidae) from the northern coast of Tunisia (central Mediterranean). Cahiers de Biologie Marine, 53 (1): 139-150

    MONDO, K. & HAMMERSCHLAG, N. & BASILE, M. & PABLO, J. & BANACK, S.A. & MASH, D.C. 2012 Cyanobacterial Neurotoxin β-N-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) in Shark Fins. Marine Drugs, 10 (2): 509-520

    MOORE, A.B.M. & MCCARTHY, I.D. & CARVALHO, G.R. & PEIRCE, R. 2012 Species, sex, size and male maturity composition of previously unreported elasmobranch landings in Kuwait, Qatar and Abu Dhabi Emirate. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    ORDINES, F. & MASSUTI, E. & MORANTA, J. & QUETGLAS, A. & GUIJARRO, B. & FLITI, K. 2011 Balearic Islands vs Algeria: two nearby western Mediterranean elasmobranch assemblages with different oceanographic scenarios and fishing histories. Scientia Marina, 75 (4): 707-717

    ORLANDO, L. & PEREYRA, I. & PAESCH, L. & NORBIS, W. 2011 Size and sex composition of two species of the genus Atlantoraja (Elasmobranchii, Rajidae) caught by the bottom trawl fisheries operating on the Uruguayan continental shelf (southwestern Atlantic Ocean). Brazilian Journal of Oceanography, 59 (4): 357-364

    PAPASTAMATIOU, Y.P. & LOWE, C.G. 2012 An analytical and hypothesis-driven approach to elasmobranch movement studies. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    QUEIROZ, N. & HUMPHRIES, N.E. & NOBLE, L.R. & SANTOS, A.M. & SIMS, D.W. 2012 Spatial Dynamics and Expanded Vertical Niche of Blue Sharks in Oceanographic Fronts Reveal Habitat Targets for Conservation. PLoS ONE, 7 (2): e32374

    RODRÍGUEZ-CABELLO, C. & ARRONTE, J.C. & SÁNCHEZ, F. & PÉREZ, M. 2012 New records expand the known southern most range of Rajella kukujevi (Elasmobranchii, Rajidae) in the North-Eastern Atlantic (Cantabrian Sea). Journal of Applied Ichthyology, in press

    RODRIGUEZ-MOLDES, I. & CARRERA, I. & POSE-MENDEZ, S. & QUINTANA-URZAINQUI, I. & CANDAL, E. & ANADON, R. & MAZAN, S. & FERREIRO-GALVE, S. 2011 Regionalization of the shark hindbrain: a survey of an ancestral organization. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 5: 16

    ROSENFELDER, N. & LEHNERT, K. & KAFFARNIK, S. & TORRES, J.P.M. & VIANNA, M. & VETTER, W. 2012 Thorough analysis of polyhalogenated compounds in ray liver samples off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 19 (2): 379-389

    SANTANA-GARCON, J. & FORDHAM, S. & FOWLER, S. 2012 Blue shark Prionace glauca fin-to-carcass-mass ratios in Spain and implications for finning ban enforcement. Journal of Fish Biology, in press

    SCHIEBER, N.L. & COLLIN, S.P. & HART, N.S. 2012 Comparative retinal anatomy in four species of elasmobranch. Journal of Morphology, in press

    SHIFFMAN, D.S. & GALLAGHER, A.J. & BOYLE, M.D. & HAMMERSCHLAG-PEYER, C.M. & HAMMERSCHLAG, N. 2012 Stable Isotope Analysis as a Tool for Elasmobranch Conservation Research: A Primer for Non-Specialists. Marine and Freshwater Research, in press

    VELASCO, G. & ODDONE, M.C. & LOPES, R.P. 2011 Records of selective fishing mortality of Myliobatis goodei on the Southern Brazil coast by Beach Seine. Brazilian Journal of Oceanography, 59 (4): 397-400

    WHITTINGTON, I.D. & KEARN, G.C. 2011 Hatching strategies in monogenean (platyhelminth) parasites that facilitate host infection. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 51: 91-99 003

    WUERINGER, B.E. & SQUIRE, L. & KAJIURA, S.M. & HART, N.S. & COLLIN, S.P. 2012 The function of the sawfish's saw. Current Biology, 22 (5): R150-R151

    YICK, J.L. & BARNETT, A. & TRACEY, S.R. 2012 The trophic ecology of two abundant mesopredators in south-east coastal waters of Tasmania, Australia. Marine Biology, in press



    Counting Reef Sharks With Cameras: 'Chum Cam' Underwater Video Survey Shows That Reef Sharks Thrive in Marine Reserves

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2012) — A team of scientists, led by the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, used video cameras to count Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi) inside and outside marine reserves on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in the Caribbean Sea. Using survey data collected from 200 baited remote underwater video (BRUV) cameras, nicknamed "chum cams," the scientists compared the relative abundance of these reef sharks in two marine reserves with those in two areas where fishing is allowed, and demonstrated that the sharks were more abundant in the reserves.

    Filmed at Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, this footage shows a sub-adult Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) swimming near the bait cage of one of the baited remote underwater video cameras, nicknamed “chum cams,” used in the study. (Credit: Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University)


    The research findings appear in the paper, "Reef sharks exhibit site-fidelity and higher relative abundance in marine reserves on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef," published online March 8 in the journal PLoS ONE. The purpose of the study, conducted from 2005 through 2010, was to test the hypothesis that carcharhinid shark species, which include requiem and whaler sharks, are more abundant inside no-take marine reserves where fishing for sharks and their prey is prohibited. The authors tested the hypothesis by using BRUV surveys to determine the reef sharks' numbers, and combined these results with acoustic monitoring to measure their site fidelity (remaining within the same local area) in Glover's Reef Marine Reserve, Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, and two reefs where fishing is allowed, all located in Belize.

    "Although we know that relatively sedentary reef fish and lobsters benefit from marine reserves, this study now presents visual proof that large, active sharks are also dramatically more abundant inside these protected areas too," said Mark Bond, lead author and doctoral student at Stony Brook University. "Nearly four times as many chum cam deployments in the marine reserves recorded reef sharks than on similar fished reefs. These areas provide the sharks and other coral reef species a respite from fishing, which means decreased fishing mortality for the sharks and more prey for them to eat."

    The video cameras were enclosed in protective housing, and placed on the sea floor with small bait-filled cages positioned in front of them. Sharks, attracted by the smell of the bait, swam to the cameras, which allowed the research team to record, count, and compare shark populations in the marine reserves to those in the areas where fishing is permitted, at no stress to the sharks. In addition to the BRUV surveys, the scientists fitted 34 reef sharks with acoustic transmitters, and tracked their movements, using moored underwater listening stations. They found that the sharks, both juveniles and adults, live year-round within the reserves.

    "Scientists who study tigers or jaguars in the wild use camera traps to count them," said Dr. Demian Chapman, assistant professor in the School of Marine & Atmospheric Science at Stony Brook, leader of the research team and assistant director of science of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. "It is just as difficult to count sharks in the ocean, so we took a page from the big cat researchers' playbook and deployed baited video cameras to count the sharks. It's only fitting since these large apex predators are the 'big cats' of the sea, and like their feline counterparts, their continued existence on Earth is threatened."

    Due to intense fishing, Caribbean reef sharks are listed as "Near Threatened" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) but it is possible they will be upgraded to "Vulnerable" by IUCN as more data are collected. They live in the western Atlantic Ocean, ranging from Bermuda to southern Brazil, and are the only Atlantic requiem shark species that undergoes its entire life cycles within coral reef ecosystems.

    "Caribbean reef sharks and other shark species around the world are threatened by overfishing," said Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, a professor in the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, who co-authored the paper and is executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. "Our study demonstrates that marine reserves can help protect shark species that live on coral reefs. Moreover, the use of underwater video monitoring provides us with an excellent tool to determine if populations are recovering and thriving inside these reserves."

    "As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words," said Bond. "As Caribbean nations and other countries consider developing marine reserves, chum cams can virtually transport policy makers and the public beneath the waves and show them the benefits of these protected areas."

    This research was funded by the Roe Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and other sponsors of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science.



    Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds: Using Satellite Technology to Evaluate the Effects of Ecotourism On Tiger Sharks

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 9, 2012) — Ecotourism activities that use food to attract and concentrate wildlife for viewing have become a controversial topic in ecological studies. This debate is best exemplified by the shark dive tourism industry, a highly lucrative and booming global market. Use of chum or food to attract big sharks to areas where divers can view the dwindling populations of these animals has generated significant criticism because of the potential for ecological and behavioral impacts to the species. However, the debate has been largely rhetorical due to a lack of sufficient data to make any conclusions either way.

    A large female tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) circles a group of divers at a popular dive-tourism site, nicknamed "Tiger Beach" in the Bahamas. (Credit: Copyright Jim Abernethy)



    Five University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science researchers, Drs. Neil Hammerschlag, Jerald S. Ault and Jiangang Luo, and graduate students Austin Gallagher and Julia Wester, combined efforts to tackle this issue. In a paper published in the British Ecological Society's Functional Ecology titled, "Don't bite the hand that feeds: Assessing ecological impacts of provisioning ecotourism on an apex marine predator," the team conducted the first satellite tagging study to examine the long-term and long range movement patterns of tiger sharks (the largest apex predator in tropical waters) in response to dive tourism.

    "We studied two separate populations of tiger sharks: one that originated in Florida and the other in the Bahamas," says Hammerschlag. At the Bahamas site, nicknamed Tiger Beach, chum is widely used to attract sharks for dive tourism purposes. In contrast, shark feeding for ecotourism in Florida waters is illegal.

    The team hypothesized that Tiger Beach sharks would exhibit restricted movements around the dive site, especially when compared to tiger sharks tagged in Florida. However, what they discovered was totally different -- Tiger Beach sharks did not exhibit restricted movements near the dive site. Instead, the Bahamas sharks occupied an area over 8500 km2 in size -- almost five times greater than Florida tiger sharks.

    "Not only did we discover that ecotourism provisioning did not affect tiger shark behavior, we found that tiger sharks undergo previously unknown long-distance migrations up to 3,500 km into the open Atlantic. These apparent feeding forays follow the Gulf Stream, an area of high biological productivity that concentrates shark prey," said Ault.

    "Given the economic and conservation benefits we believe managers should not prevent shark diving tourism out of hand until sufficient data were to demonstrate otherwise," added Hammerschlag.

    Shark finning, the practice of catching a shark, slicing off its fins and then disposing of the body at sea, is resulting in immense shark population declines worldwide. Fins are sold to support the growing demand for shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. In a 2011 study by UM's Gallagher & Hammerschlag, they showed that shark dive tourism generates more money to local economies than does killing the sharks.



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