New Way to Protect Hammerhead Sharks

Written by on December 3, 2012 in Marine Life, Technology

Emily Tripp


Hammerheads. Photo credit: BibbloJonas via photopin cc

Researchers have found a new way to decrease the number of hammerhead sharks accidentally killed by longline fishing gear.

Hammerhead shark populations have declined by about 89 percent over the last two decades, primarily due to illegal poaching and accidental bycatch.

Scientists have determined that creating a mild electric field around fishing lines can be successful at keeping some sharks–specifically sharks that use electrically sensitive organs, like the hammerhead–away from the lines.

They create this electric field by attaching rare-earth lanthanide metals (neodymium and praseodymium) to the fishing fear instead of lead weights. The only problem with this method is that lanthanide metals dissolve fairly quickly in water and they are expensive.

The good news is that according to the new study, test lines in Hawaii caught less than half as many scalloped hammerhead pups as lines that didn’t have a surrounding electric field.

To learn more

Scalloped hammerhead.

Scalloped hammerhead. Photo credit: ClifB via photopin cc

Copyright © 2012 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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