There is a program underway to survey shark populations and it has reached a significant milestone of reaching their first 100 reefs. They have also captured some pretty interesting video along the way.
Called the Global FinPrint, the process begins by deploying baited remote underwater video (BRUV) equipment to monitor sharks and rays on camera in their natural environment. One surprising part of the research is that is finding current data on the abundance and distribution of these predators is pretty inaccurate.
The survey project is focusing on coral reef habitats worldwide and have experienced a few surprises in the first year. Some areas are seeing more sharks and rays than expected. In fact, the researchers have even engaged in a friendly competition on Twitter around the hashtag #BRUVbattle, for the team capturing the most sharks in a single screengrab. The current record holder is the team from Australia with 12 gray reef sharks caught on camera along Jarvis Reef in the Pacific Ocean.
Although there are some promising findings, there are others that are quite startling — for the wrong reasons.
“In some locations, such as The Bahamas and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, sharks and rays are extremely common. These are places where local shark conservation measures seem to be working, or are areas largely untouched by shark fisheries,” said FinPrint lead scientist Demian Chapman.
For areas that are more heavily fished, the cameras rolled for hours and hours with dismal results. For example, off the coast of Malaysia, the researchers collected more than 100 videos that resulted in a single shark sighting. In Jamaica a similar number of videos yielded no sharks at all.
The researchers hope to reach more than 200 reefs by the end of 2017 and include about 400 reefs in the final analysis at the end of the three-year project. The research already shows that existing data on shark and ray abundance in some parts of the world is inaccurate.
Below are a few of the great images the BRUVs have also captured.
— Global FinPrint (@globalfinprint) May 13, 2016
— Samantha Sherman (@SammSherman27) May 23, 2016