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New research on migratory behavior of oceanic whitetip sharks can help shape conservation strategies
Date:2/20/2013

usive Economic Zone (EEZ) for their entire tracking period. The other five sharks, after an approximate 30-day period of residency within 500 kilometers of the tagging area, made long-distance movements outside of the EEZ, with one traveling as far as Bermuda. The fact that all these tagged mature female sharks returned to The Bahamas provides the first evidence of return-migration in this species. Additional findings that were surprising to the scientists included the sharks spending an average of 68 percent of the monitored time in Bahamian waters, and that these sharks, normally found near the ocean's surface, made dives of approximately 1,000 meters, possibly related to feeding behavior.

"Although these sharks are relatively safe from fishing in Bahamian waters, our study shows their long-range roaming takes them across the boundaries of different countries and into the high seas where they still encounter fishing gear set for other species," said Dr. Demian Chapman, an assistant professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and assistant director of science at the Institute for Ocean Conservation at Stony Brook University. "If we want to continue to see these animals in our oceans, fishing nations will have to work together to protect this species, and monitoring of trade and enforcement measures will need to be coordinated on an international level."

Once considered among the most abundant apex predators on Earth, overfishing has caused huge declines in oceanic whitetip sharks, and the species is listed as "Critically Endangered" in the Northwest Atlantic and Western Central Atlantic, and "Vulnerable" globally by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The fins of these sharks can be sold for $90 per kilogram because of the high demand for their use in shark fin soup, a delicacy in Chinese culture. There is growing international interest in improving the conservation of these sharks, including a proposal to list
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Contact: Cindy Yeast
cdyeast@earthlink.net
720-542-9455
The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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