Be a citizen scientist.
Become one of
Divers counting sharks.
Because every shark counts!
Answers for frequently asked questions about SharksCountPhoto Credit: Jim Abernethy
No. SharksCount is easy and not restricted to SCUBA divers. You can count sharks while you dive, snorkel or fish (preferably catch and release) whether you are a local or a visitor.
Email us at sharks firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us where you dive most often and we'll add you to our growing team list of counters worldwide. We'll contact you and the entire team with data sheets, ID sheets, and more information regularly. Thank you for joining the program.
Absolutely! Ask your dive club or dive shop to include SharksCount in their activitives and we can provide all survey materials and training upon request. Contact us at email@example.com for more information.
This is an important question because of the sensitive nature of the data – the quick and profitable harvest of a local shark population (legally or illegally) can be tempting to some and online data should never be a source for such temptations. Always ask this question before submitting data about sharks or other harvested marine animals to anyone, especially online.
We protect your shark sighting data, especially locations of sightings, in three important ways:
1. When the data is mapped and visually shared on our webpage, the species and numbers of sightings are displayed by region, never by specific location. This is to safeguard the shark populations themselves and to respect any proprietary dive sites.
2. The SharksCount program applies 256-bit encryption on all data collected and stored.
3. We require all participants to register with Shark Savers and log in with unique IDs and passwords when submitting their data online.
The safety of the shark populations you dive with and value is of the highest importance to us. Please share any concerns or questions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The term “shifting baseline” refers to the situation where we observe the natural world as it is now, often forgetting the former state of populations or habitats, and measure change against a ‘baseline’ condition that has often already changed or declined. It was first defined by fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia in 1995.
This is particularly important with regard to sharks because some local populations have declined by 90% or more over the past few decades. Yet as new divers we may perceive that the current frequency that we see sharks is the ‘norm’ for the habitats we frequent.
For more information on this topic, please see the list of articles and papers below.
S.K. Papworth, Rist J., CoadL., and Milner-Gulland E.J. 2009. Ecology and Organismal Biology. 2:2: 93 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2009.00049.x/abstract
Jeremy B.C. Jackson and Nancy Knowlton. 2008. Shifting baselines, local impacts, and global change on coral reefs. PLoS Biology. 6.2: 215. http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060054
S. A. Sandin et al., Baselines and Degradation of Coral Reefs in the Northern Line Islands. PLoS ONE 3, e1548 (2008). http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0001548
M.R. Heithaus, Burkholder, D., Hueter, R.E., Heithaus, L.I., Pratt, Jr., H.L., and Carrier, J.C. 2007. Spatial and temporal variation in shark communities of the lower Florida Keys and evidence for historical population declines. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 64: 1302-1313.
Baum, J.K. & Myers, R.A. (2004). Shifting baselines and the decline of pelagic sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. Ecol. Lett., 7, 135–145.
Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean. Jeremy B. C. Jackson
Cascading Effects of the Loss of Apex Predatory Sharks from a Coastal Ocean. Ransom A. Myers, Julia K. Baum, Travis D. Shepherd, Sean P. Powers, Charles H. Peterson. 2007. VOL 315. SCIENCE. www.sciencemag.org http://www.sciencemag.org/content/315/5820/1846.short
How severe are shark population decreases, and how do we know? By WhySharksMatter, on April 19th, 2012 http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=12947
An open letter concerning the unsustainability of shark finning. White Shark Conservation Trust. 29. May 2012 http://sharkyear.com/2012/an-open-letter-concerning-the-unsustainability-of-shark-finning.html#.T8s-IZWSPY8.facebook
Shifting Baselines - How Can We Protect The Future Of The Oceans If We Don’t Know The Past? Randy Olson, 2006 http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=8295
“Zero-data” is documenting the absence of something – in this case, sharks. And this data is vital for the SharksCount program to have maximum applications to conservation. If you go on a dive and see no sharks, please record that dive on your datasheet and report it to us. All your diving information is valuable.
This is important to remember because when divers record the species they encounter on a dive, this only documents the presence of the species of interest. However it is equally important to record the absence of certain species, like sharks. Today, sharks are largely absent in areas where they were once abundant. Providing data that illustrates where sharks are present and absent helps scientists establish baselines of shark populations.
Scientists use presence/absence data to understand the roles that human disturbance plays in the distribution/abundance of coastal shark populations. Overall, larger shark species are often depleted or absent in areas with high levels of fishing and human disturbance.
The information you submit to the SharksCount Program can help scientists and managers prevent further loss of sharks by designating priority conservation areas, measuring the success of management strategies for protecting sharks, informing communities about the overall presence/seasonality of sharks in their area and dive sites, and understanding population changes through time.
For more information, please review the resources below.
Stallings C (2009) Fishery-independent data reveal negative effect of human population density on Caribbean predatory fish communities. Plos One 4: e5333.
C. A. M. Ward-Paige, C.; Lotze, H. K.; Pattengill-Semmens, C.;, L. A.-C. McClenachan, E.; Myers, R. A. , Large-Scale Absence of Sharks on Reefs in the Greater- Caribbean: A Footprint of Human Pressures. PLoS ONE 5, (2010).
C. A. a. L. Ward-Paige, Heike K. , Assessing the Value of Recreational Divers for Censusing Elasmobranchs. PLoS ONE 6, (2011).