We needed a bigger boat and the Aggressor Fleet was there to help. As part of their commitment to protecting sharks, the Galapagos Aggressor, a diving live aboard yacht, has been taking Shark Savers’ Germany scientist Johanna Zimmerhackel on the 16 hour journey to the remote northern islands of the Galapagos archipelago for her fieldwork.
“I want to thank Aggressor Fleet for making this work possible,” says Johanna, who has been using the Aggressor to reach the Darwin and Wolf Islands, where she is part of a team conducting a visual census of pelagic species as part of a larger project to assess shark abundances in the archipelago.
Most of the sighted sharks are hammerhead and galapagos sharks, but whale sharks have also been commonly spotted, especially around Darwin Island. “You may think that galapagos sharks are just found in the Galapagos” adds Johanna, “but despite their name, they can be found worldwide, close to oceanic islands.”
Between dives Johanna has been enjoying the Aggressor’s luxury accommodations and interviewing dive guides to reconstruct the historical abundance of sharks in the area: “They have known Galapagos waters and their inhabitants for two decades, so I tried to learn as much as possible from their experiences.”
Another important part of the project is to conduct surveys with guests, like those on the Aggressor, to assess their experiences with sharks and determine the direct economic expense of dive tourism on the islands. It is a great opportunity to engage with the public by providing ongoing discussions about marine science and shark education.
“Passing on information to the public is extremely important to enhance awareness about the deprived situation of sharks” says Johanna. “These discussions make it clear how privileged we are to dive in one of the few dive sites where you still can find big schools of sharks.”
See underwater footage from their most recent trip with the Aggressor Galapagos below:
About the Project:
Scientist Johanna Zimmerhackel is working in the Galapagos as part of The Shark Research and Conservation Project, organized by the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and UC Davis, with support from Shark Savers Germany. For more information on the project, visit http://www.sharksavers.org/en/blogs-news/shark-savers-blog/shark-savers-and-the-charles-darwin-foundation-to-value-shark-ecotourism-in-the-galapagos/