Endangered Sharks Come Home To The Bahamas
Oceanic whitetip sharks return home to protected Bahamas waters, surprising scientists.
Previously thought to be wide-ranging animals, a tagging survey has revealed that the sharks frequently revisit the same areas around the island.
Conservationists have listed the sharks as Vulnerable globally and Critically Endangered in parts of their range. Experts suggest that the island nation’s marine protected area is assisting the species.
The findings are published in the online journal PLoS One. Oceanic whitetips are named for the distinctive white flashes at the end of their fins. They are opportunistic predators with powerful jaws and as such are considered one of the more dangerous sharks to humans, although the number of unprovoked attacks on people is small.
“Of all the sharks that live in the open ocean they’re the ones that have really declined a lot in the last few decades,” said Dr Demian Chapman of Stony Brook University, New York, US, who led the study.
“They’ve gone from being one of the most abundant large vertebrates on the planet to being considered quite endangered.”
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed the sharks as Vulnerable due to over-fishing for their meat and leather, and accidental by-catch. “Oceanic whitetips frequently take bait meant for other species like tuna and swordfish,” said Dr Chapman, explaining that their fins are prized for shark fin soup.
“Fisherman will take all of these sharks that were incidentally hooked and they will take their fins, and that is fatal to the shark.”
Source: Pakistan Todayenvironment, sharks