Endangered Sharks of Galapagos

 

Project background

Every year, globally, humans harvest 100 million individual sharks from our oceans. Endangered species, including the scalloped hammerhead, dusky and whale shark face threats from overfishing and bycatch. Recent research has also shown that the ingestion of microplastics may threaten the health of whale sharks and other filter-feeding marine species.

The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) is home to the highest concentration of sharks in the world. It is a crucial location for critically endangered scalloped hammerheads and is one of the only places globally where large numbers still reside. Its whale shark population is also globally rare, with the vast majority mature females, as opposed to juvenile males found in other hotspots. Furthermore, of the females spotted in the GMR, over 90% appear pregnant. When considering the lack of knowledge about whale shark reproductivity, it makes this unique population crucial to researching this species. Shallower waters in the GMR also provide important sites for blacktip shark pupping grounds and, in 2017, it was found that hammerhead sharks also have nursery sites in the GMR.

Blog, Hammerheads © Simon Pierce

Large aggregations of hammerhead sharks such as this in Galapagos occur in few locations across the world © Simon Pierce

Many of the sharks found in the GMR are migratory, including whale and hammerhead sharks. Recent research has evidenced that some migratory sharks are often moving between the GMR and Cocos Island National Park (CINP) in Costa Rica. Once these sharks move outside of the protected waters of the GMR, they are extremely vulnerable to industrial fishing. As part of Galapagos Conservation Trust’s Endangered Sharks of Galapagos programme, we are:

  • Building upon the research already undertaken to improve our understanding of whale shark migratory movements, as well as other open ocean, migratory species.
  • Using this evidence to create the world’s first protected ‘swimway’ between Galapagos and Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica.
  • Enhancing protections for shark nursery grounds within the GMR.

To find out more about the project, please visit our blog for project updates.

How can you help?

Please help us conserve the endangered sharks of Galapagos today by donating to the programme, adopting a hammerhead shark or becoming a GCT member.

This project has been kindly supported by the Ocean Conservation Trust (previously National Marine Aquarium) since 2018.