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‘A tremendous discovery’: Scientists stumble on first nursery for hammerhead sharks within the Galápagos

The scientists have been additionally in a position to tag one of many elusive species for the primary time, and hope their findings will result in larger safety.


Scientists have found what may very well be the primary recognized easy hammerhead shark nursery within the Galápagos.

The weak shark species – so-called for its elongated head which types a straighter curve than the scalloped hammerhead – is never noticed within the marine reserve.

However after observing a number of younger pups in a small bay at Isabela Island, the Greenpeace expedition staff consider they’ve discovered a breeding floor within the archipelago – and so they’re rightly excited.

“That is an incredible discovery!” says lead scientist Alex Hearn from Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador and marine conservation analysis organisation MigraMar. “Not solely is that this species hardly ever reported right here, however on this bay we have now discovered quite a few young-of-the-year, suggesting that this is perhaps a nursery web site.”

To be confirmed as such, three standards have to be met. There have to be extra shark pups right here than in surrounding areas; the sharks should reside on the web site for prolonged durations of time; and the positioning have to be utilized by successive generations of pups.

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Although it can take extra monitoring to certify the positioning, the findings from Greenpeace’s six-week expedition are testomony to the extraordinary biodiversity of the Galápagos Marine Reserve.

Paola Sangolquí, marine coordinator at Jocotoco Conservation Basis, says he hopes all the data gathered will assist make a powerful case for the ratification of the Excessive Seas Treaty and the safety of migratory species, “who don’t find out about boundaries.”

What does a gathering of hammerhead sharks must do with the Excessive Seas Treaty?

UN international locations made a landmark settlement to guard life within the excessive seas – huge areas of the ocean that lie exterior nationwide boundaries – final yr.

The Excessive Seas Treaty will create marine protected areas (MPAs) to restrict fishing actions, delivery routes and exploratory actions like deep-sea mining.

This helps the ‘30 by 30’ purpose established on the UN biodiversity convention in 2022 (COP15), to guard 30 per cent of the world’s oceans and land for nature by 2030.

89 international locations have signed the treaty thus far, but it surely gained’t come into drive till 60 international locations signal and ratify it, and solely 4 international locations have adopted via with this legally-binding step thus far: Palau, Chile, Belize and the Seychelles.

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The EU voted to ratify the treaty in March, sending an “essential sign” to the remainder of the world, within the phrases of Rebecca Hubbard, director of the Excessive Seas Alliance marketing campaign group.

By finding out the graceful hammerhead shark’s actions, Greenpeace hopes to determine areas exterior the protected waters of the Galápagos that needs to be made protected for the species.

“If we will study why the graceful hammerhead pups use this specific location, we will make predictions about the place else we would discover them throughout the area,” explains Hearn.

“Right here in Galapágos, the sharks are protected, however this isn’t the case after they, as a migratory species, depart the reserve. If we will map the sharks’ key habitats, we will take steps to push for extra protected areas within the excessive seas, the place these sharks migrate, to keep away from them being caught within the first place.”

Tagging the primary easy hammerhead shark within the Galápagos

The scientists have been additionally in a position to match a satellite tv for pc monitoring system to a subadult easy hammerhead for the primary time within the Galápagos.

Named Alba after actress and ocean conservation advocate Alba Flores – who was on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Dawn throughout its first week – the feminine shark’s travels can be intently watched.

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Because the scientists observe Alba’s journey, they are going to be capable to assess her vulnerability if she leaves the Galapágos Marine Reserve.


“Beforehand, it was unattainable to guard this excessive seas space the place these sharks migrate. However now, utilizing the lately gained UN World Ocean Treaty, governments have an opportunity to spice up safety of the migratory species on this area and supply a strong instance to the remainder of the world of find out how to shield the excessive seas,” provides Sophie Cooke, Arctic Dawn expedition lead at Greenpeace UK.

Defending sharks is essential, and never just for their very own sake. The highest predators assist keep the correct stability of fish populations within the ocean, thereby stopping overgrazing and enriching biodiversity.

Finely attuned to adjustments of their atmosphere, hammerhead sharks are additionally indicator species of the well being of marine ecosystems.

Hammerhead sharks are significantly weak to longlining, and fishing fleets in the present day function simply exterior the borders of the reserve.

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