As part of the three-year project called Global FinPrint, conservationists will place video cameras on the ocean floor and bait sharks, hoping to catch them on camera. With more reliable numbers in hand, scientists will have a better idea of how to organize conversation efforts for the animals, Dune Ives, senior director of philanthropy at Vulcan Inc. Researchers, policy makers, governments and others will be able use this database to help inform conservation priorities, such as identifying and protecting areas with large or important shark populations, and to better understand the ecological importance of sharks as apex predators.
Finaly, AIMS researcher Dr Mark Meekan notes there is only a very small chance any new shark or ray species could be discovered, but this data could help fill in some gaps. The sharks are commercially used for their fins and meat.
“A recent global Union for the Conservation of Nature report indicated that we don’t have the data we need to accurately assess the current population status for almost half of shark and ray species”, said Ms. Ives in the statement.
Demian Chapman of Stony Brook University in New York is leading the global team of researchers, which include researchers from the James Cook University in Queensland, Australia and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Allen’s Vulcan Inc., which funds a series of scientific initiatives on ocean health, space flight, and understanding the human brain.
“What is happening with fragile marine ecosystems when sharks are removed?” “This could be a big problem for these ecosystems because sharks and rays, which are also in trouble in many places, may be important for keeping the oceans healthy”.
The population of reef sharks is considered as “near-threatened” due to commercial fishing and depletion of coral reefs, caused by illegal fishing by humans.
The Global FinPrint initiative, a research survey created to collect essential data about sharks’ ranges and habitats, was announced by the private investment company, run by Microsoft founder Paul Allen. These are hugely important questions.
Marine biologist Mike Heithaus, a well-known shark researcher from Florida worldwide University who is a part of the project, explained that the new shark survey would be especially useful in areas where relatively little is known about shark populations, in particular the Indo-Pacific region, tropical western Atlantic, southern and eastern Africa and around the Indian Ocean islands.
Such concerns have to be met because many countries reply on healthy coral reefs for food security, tourism and coastal protection.