Articles and Interviews

13. Jan, 2019

Resume of the feature article from Fernando Reis with photography by Philippe Lecomte published on the Magazine of the Emirates Diving Association, December 2018.



DIVING WITH SHARKS IN THE UAE 

Yes! We can dive with sharks in UAE waters. Both in the Indian Ocean and in the Arabian Gulf.This may seem surprising for many divers that are used to travelling quite far away to find interesting propositions for shark diving, but the fact is that we can easily learn a lot about sharks if we try shark diving with some very particular species found in the Arabian Sea. I have had some recent experiences with Blacktip Reef Sharks on the East Coast of the UAE, and with Bamboo Shark species in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Shark Diving is probably one of the best conservation tools we can experience in marine education! 

THE ACTUAL SHARKS’ STATUS 

Fishing pressure on sharks has been increasing. Thanks to interviews with fishermen, the geographical extent, gear characteristics, sizes, and target of the species is known. Results collected by the preparation team of the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, showed that the fishery was highly opportunistic and varied considerably in fishing behaviours. The existence of a targeted shark fishery fuelled by the shark fin trade, and the high levels of bycatch recorded, indicate that this fishery is likely to have a substantial impact on shark populations locally. In fact, fishermen confirmed that the status of sharks had changed in recent years and that they were witnessing noticeable declines in catches, abundance and average sizes of sharks in UAE Arabian Gulf waters. 

THE NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION 

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment published a National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPACMS). Following the cultural heritage legacy from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who worked in consideration for the protection of the environment in the UAE, this nation is actually signatory to a number of regional and international agreements, including the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on International Trade of Endangered Fauna & Flora (CITES), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME). 

THE ACTUAL SHARKS’ STATUS 

Fishing pressure on sharks has been increasing. Thanks to interviews with fishermen, the geographical extent, gear characteristics, sizes, and target of the species is known. Results collected by the preparation team of the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, showed that the fishery was highly opportunistic and varied considerably in fishing behaviours.

THE THREATS 

Sharks of shallow water habitats (like the Bamboo Sharks), on the coast and in the open ocean, are the most seriously threatened. Sharks longer than one metre (such as Blacktip Reef Sharks) have 50% more chance of being threatened. 

WHAT IS THE NATIONAL PLAN MISSING? 

As it happens with any plan of action, without previously defined quality measurement indicators, these objectives could risk becoming transformed no matter how good the intentions. It is understandable, despite this set of measures, that shark and batoid awareness is absolutely necessary to x quantified objectives for each specific indicator with the overall time period specified. Measuring those indicators in the beginning of the implementation period of the plan and to x quantified objectives to the end of the plan’s period is fundamental. 

WHY ARE SHARKS SO IMPORTANT? 

As it is known from science, the large majority of fish species that have evolved in the oceans over the last 450 million years, have been shaped by their predators, the sharks. In evolution, the most probable is that sharks are responsible for giving rise to camouflage, speed, fish sizes, schooling behaviour and underwater communication. 

THE SHARKS’ VALUE 

Numerous case studies around the world have demonstrated the economic value of the sustainable shark diving ecotourism. There is no doubt nowadays, that a living shark is much more pro table on long term than a dead shark once shed. In UAE, the Marine Reserves around Dibba Rock and Snoopy Island, in Fujairah, are starting to become evident of that too.We deeply believe the new National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks is a very positive step in the right direction. Let’s hope it can also be managed in a transparent way, with quantified quality indicators and planned established targets.

13. Jan, 2019
December 2018 - DIVERS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT - VOLUME 14 - ISSUE 4

FEATURE FERNANDO REIS PHOTOGRAPHY PHILIPPE LECOMTE
I have had some recent experiences with Blacktip Reef Sharks on the East Coast of the UAE, and with Bamboo Shark species in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Shark Diving is probably one of the best conservation tools we can experience in marine education!

13. Jan, 2019

 

"The Spotback Skate and its size problem" in Spanish



(La Raya Pintada y su problema de tamaño)

in El Librito del Sur Nº7



A short resume from an article by Fernando Reis, SEI's executive director, published the 2nd November 2018 on "EL LIBRITO DEL SUR" in Argentina:



Also known as spotted stingray, it is a species of elasmobranch that inhabits the coastal bottoms of South America, and which has been classified as endangered for more than 14 years. Nowadays, there are few specimens captured by the fishermen of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Like many other species of oviparous rays, the Spotback Skate Atlantoraja castelnauideposits its eggs (large capsules that can occupy the entire palm of one hand), from January to October of each year. These capsules are rectangular measuring between 92 and 103 mm long and 72 and 80 mm wide.

The range of distribution of this species is very small on a global scale. It only inhabits coastal waters between southern Brazil, from Rio de Janeiro to Golfo San Jorge, in Argentina, between depths ranging from 20 m until little more than 200 m. If we lose it here in South America, it is lost in our entire planet.

Special thanks to:

  • Alejo Irigoyen - Researcher at the Center for the Study of Marine Systems (CESIMAR) and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CCT CENPAT - CONICET), Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina.

  • Santiago A. Barbini – Researcher from the Research Group “Biología de Peces”, also researcher at the Marine and Coastal Research Institute (IIMyC), and at the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CCT CENPAT – CONICET), National University Mar del Plata (UNMdP).

19. Sep, 2018
A latent power of Basking Sharks...


Great white sharks known as great predators and fast swimmers are the opposite of basking sharks which have a languid lifestyle and are filter-feeding planktivores. But recent video footage analysis as shown that basking sharks the slowly swimmers can leap just as powerfully as great whites.

See more in:
Journal reference: Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0537

13. Sep, 2018

Sharks and rays of Argentine waters - The sixth article



"The School Shark: an almost extinct shark in Argentine waters" in Spanish 

(El Cazón: un tiburón casi extinguido)

in El Librito del Sur Nº6

A short resume from an article by Fernando Reis, SEI's executive director, published the 5th September 2018 on "EL LIBRITO DEL SUR" in Argentina:

According to the IUCN Red List, in the Southwest Atlantic the G. galeuspopulation is subject to intensive fishing throughout its distribution where this speciesis already considered Critically Endangered (CR), and without major and urgent management measures the situation for this shark species in the Southwest Atlantic is set to become even worse. 

A shy species very appreciated in some kitchens,the School Shark (Galeorhinus galeus)spends his life moving between the coasts of Brazil and Argentina. Unfortunately, too many times, it ends up dried out for traditional Easter meals. It is a relatively small shark, which lives in coastal areas of temperate waters of all oceans but which is on the verge of extinction in Eastern South American waters.

At the global level, the Cazón G. galeus is classified in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species of Extinction as a vulnerable species (code VU). However, according to the IUCN Red List and due to an unregulated overfishing in the Southwest Atlantic, the G. galeus population is already considered Critically Endangered (CR), and without major and urgent management measures the situation for this shark species in the Southwest Atlantic is set to become even worse. 

The decreases registered along the last decades have been more notorious in Brazil and Uruguay; but, this important Houndshark continue to be fished without any restrictions. If these predatory sharks of South American Atlantic ecosystems disappear, they can cause serious declines in some species of commercial importance, just the opposite of what could be desired.

Without urgent measures, the situation in this area of the Atlantic will worsen until its final disappearance. To stop this, it's absolutely necessary to start immediately to limit the fishing of this shark species.

Special thanks to:

  • Alejo Irigoyen and Gastón Trobbiani- Researchers at the Center for the Study of Marine Systems (CESIMAR) and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CCT CENPAT - CONICET), Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina.