Shark Week 2016 – A Conservationist’s Guide (Programs on Thursday night, June 30, 2016)

Posted on June 30, 2016
Written by: Samantha Whitcraft

Shark Week continues with another night of new programming. You can review the program line-up, here. Again, we’ve compiled some conservation information around tonight’s shows to help provide a broader understanding about the status of the sharks presented and the locations featured. 

9 pm EST – Nuclear Sharks

This show will feature Gray Reef Sharks at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Here is some additional information about this species and the atoll.

~ The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species lists the Gray Reef Shark as “Near Threatened”. The species summary states that this species was “formerly…common in clear, tropical, coastal waters and oceanic atolls. Its restricted habitat, site fidelity, inshore distribution, small litter size, and relatively late age at maturity, along with increasing fishing pressure suggest that this species may be under threat. Although caught in tropical multi-species fisheries, it has considerably greater value in dive tourism if protected.”

~ Bikini Atoll is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its historical significance as a nuclear test site.

~ Since 1996, recreational divers have traveled to Bikini to visit and photograph both the historic ship wrecks and the sharks found in Shark Pass, named for the often abundant sightings of sharks there.

10 pm EST – Jungle Shark

This show will feature Bull Sharks in Costa Rica. Here is some additional information about this species and fishing pressures on sharks in Costa Rica:

~ Bull Sharks are categorized as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Their current, global population trend is unknown. The species summary states that Bull Sharks are “commonly caught in both commercial and recreational fisheries [though] not normally a fishery target species.” As with many shark species, they are caught as bycatch in multi-species fisheries. Bull Sharks are exploited commercially for a variety of products including skin, liver oil, meat and fins.

~ Because Bull Shark nurseries are found in estuarine and freshwater habitats their populations are likely impacted by loss of these critical areas due to coastal development, hydrological alterations, and pollution of waterways.

~ It is unlikely that Bull Sharks have the highest level of testosterone of any animal, and this often repeated “fun fact” is not, to our knowledge, supported by any extensive scientific comparative study.

~ Bull Sharks are popular with recreational divers and photographers in places like Beqa, Fiji and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Their popularity with divers contributes significantly to these local economies, and in 2004 contributed to the establishment of the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, the first shark sanctuary in Fiji.

~ Costa Rica is globally recognized as a leader in terrestrial conservation with more than a quarter of all lands designated as protected areas. However, the lack of protection for sharks in Costa Rica has also long been a focus of international attention and concern. For example, between 2009 and 2014, the domestic fishing fleet landed approximately 8,000 – 10,000 vulnerable and endangered hammerhead sharks. 

Enjoy Shark Week 2016 and be sure to follow Shark Savers on Twitter @Sharksavers as we live-Tweet during the shows; we’ll be using and follow #SharkWeek and #SharkWeek2016.

 

Correction – Last night’s blog: The show “Sharks vs. Dolphins” featured research primarily in Florida and the Bahamas, not Shark Bay, Australia. 

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