Every year, globally, humans harvest 100 million individual sharks from our oceans. Endangered species, such as scalloped hammerhead and whale sharks, 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 young males found in other hotspots. Shallower waters provide important sites for blacktip shark pupping grounds and, in 2017, it was found that hammerhead sharks also have nursery sites in the GMR.
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 will:
- Build upon the research already undertaken to improve our understanding of whale shark migratory movements, as well as other open ocean, migratory species.
- Use this evidence to create the world’s first protected ‘swimway’ between Galapagos and Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica.
- Enhance 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?
This project has been kindly supported by the Ocean Conservation Trust (previously National Marine Aquarium) since 2018.