Friday June 16, 2023

Courthouse News Service

In a study published in Science on Thursday, a global initiative founded by researchers at Florida International University has given scientists invaluable reef data. After three years, The Global FinPrint team combed through over 20,000 hours of underwater footage across 391 reefs and found alarming losses among reef sharks and hopeful sanctuaries.

Reef sharks play a critical role in reef and ocean health. As apex predators, they eat sick and weak fish and keep various animals in good shape. They also take up habitat space and shape how other animals move and eat, so when sharks leave, corals, seagrass and even commercial fisheries start to fail. 

Global FinPrint placed 22,756 remote underwater video stations in 67 nations and territories to conduct this massive survey that resulted in nearly three years of raw footage. Lead study author Colin Simpfendorfer and his colleagues found that five of the most common reef shark species have declined by 60% to 73% and are far worse off than a decade ago, despite conservation efforts. Additionally, some species weren’t even found in nearly half of the reefs studied. 

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