Sharks are apex predators, which help to keep a balance in the ocean, this balance has been created over millions of years of evolution. Sharks are under threat world wide with an estimated 70-90 million sharks killed through overfishing, bycatch and increasing in the shark fin industry. This problem isn’t just limited to other countries but is also occurring here in New Zealand. Globally shark populations are in decline and this needs to change if we want our oceans to remain healthy. Sharks need our help to protect them as well as the fisheries and ocean ecosystems which they keep in balance.
Sharks have a very low breeding rate and are slow to mature which further compounds the problem of shark fining and overfishing. The highly migratory nature of sharks compounds the issue as shark species may be protected in some waters, yet fished in other waters. To help protect sharks and reduce the decline of shark species we need to promote awareness of the issues and to understand the biology and behaviour of sharks better, to allow for the implementation of new conservation measures. Without an understanding of shark biology and behaviour then shark populations around the world are likely to become more threatened, endangered or even extinct if the current trends in bycatch, fining and overfishing are not stopped or reduced.
At S.O.S we support research into shark species, their behaviour, ecology and role in New Zealand’s marine ecosystem. This information can be used to help improve protection levels of sharks, and reduce there decline in our waters. We also support the movement to ban shark fining in New Zealand, which is a cruel practise.
S.O.S is therefore supporting the project of one of our members Riley Eliot, who is currently doing a PhD on Blue sharks in New Zealand waters. Riley and SOS would like to see a greater awareness and protection of sharks in New Zealand waters and through a greater understanding of them, we think this is possible. Below is brief outline of the project details and objectives of the research, if you require more information about the project send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a regular blogs though our blog tab about this project, along with other current issues and projects.
Riley’s project title:
Spatial and temporal patterns in habitat use and migration by a pelagic predator, the blue shark (Prionace glauca), within New Zealand waters
Description of Project
My project aims to investigate patterns in habitat use and migration of blue sharks across a range of spatial and temporal scales within New Zealand (NZ) waters. Large scale migration and habitat use will be assessed using long term historical catch data, collected in predominantly offshore waters (>1000m depth) via the NZ fishery observer program. Catch composition (size/sex) will be assessed for correlation with habitat type and significant marine systems. Satellite tagging will assist in identifying large scale spatial/temporal trends.
Small scale diurnal patterns will be investigated inshore (<1000m depth) using active telemetry tracking of acoustic tags with temperature and depth sensors. Simple stomach content analysis will reveal possible foraging stimulus for diurnal movement.
Collaboration of the above will give a broad, baseline understanding of the behaviour, habitat preference and migratory cycles of the blue shark; a species lacking research but fundamental to NZ’s marine ecosystem.
How you can help
Riley is currently working on his PhD and is in the tagging process now, any donations or funding to go towards tagging and expenses is appreciated. We are working at getting our donations page under way, however if you want to donate to fund or sponsor Riley with his PhD project then contact us through email@example.com and we will put you in touch with him.
To Follow Riley's research just click on the link below which will take you to his website or click on the link to his facebook page. We will also be posting updates here and on our facebook website.