Sharks and Rays Face “Substantially Higher Risk” of Extinction

Written by on January 21, 2014 in Other News

Daily Summary

Spotted eagle ray.

Spotted eagle ray. Photo credit: jurvetson via photopin cc.

A quarter of sharks and rays threatened with extinction
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction. The new study by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) is the first ever global analysis of sharks and rays. The study includes an analysis of the conservation status of 1,041 shark, ray, and closely related chimaera species, which are at a “substantially higher risk than most other groups of animals and have the lowest percentage of species considered safe.” The study reveals that the Gulf of Thailand and the Mediterranean Sea are the areas where the depletion of sharks and rays is the most dramatic. The decline is due primarily to overfishing and a demand for shark fins.

Western North Pacific gray whale breaches off Sakhalin Island, Russia.

Western North Pacific gray whale breaches off Sakhalin Island, Russia. Photo credit: NOAA SWFSC.

Conservationists, big oil join forces for whales
A group working to save critically endangered western gray whales has joined forces with the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, a company that is working on one of the largest oil and gas projects in the world. This unexpected partnership formed to help limit the impact of seismic surveys on endangered whales. Together, they have drawn up “stringent guidelines” for conducting seismic surveys in a way that would cause the least possible damage to the gray whales and other sound-sensitive marine mammals. One of the methods involves getting Sakhalin to conduct surveys as early in the year as possible, after the ice has melted but before most of the whales have returned.

Shark cull could violate existing laws
The controversial plan to catch and kill sharks in Western Australia may violate two existing state laws. The fishing crews hired to set and monitor the baited hooks on drumlines would need exemption from two state laws, the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1950 and the Fish Resource Management Act of 1994. These exemptions are in addition to the requirement that WA “be released from its obligations under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by the Federal Government.” A third problem with the cull involves a police investigation. The contract may be delayed even more as police investigate alleged threats were made against the potential contracted fishermen. For more on the shark cull, check out this post: Are Shark Attacks Really More Common in Western Australia?

Great white shark.

Great white shark. Photo credit: Michael Heilemann via photopin cc.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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