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Shark Research and Conservation Takes Center Stage

Business 17 Jul, 2023 Follow News

Shark Project Officer, Dr. Johanna Kohler of the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE) addresses and audience at the Caybrew ‘Tap Room’ on 11th July, 2023.

Shark Project Officer, Dr. Johanna Kohler talks to an audience about the shark research and conservation at a special event held at the Caybrew ‘Tap Room’ on 11th July, 2023.

Shark conservation was the topic featured at a special event held at the Caybrew ‘Tap Room’ on 11th July.

The evening featured a presentation by Dr. Johanna Kohler of the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE), whose remarks were followed by shark trivia games and drinks.

Caybrew has been supporting shark research and conservation over the years, with proceeds from each ‘white tip’ beer going toward shark research and conservation work.

The standing room only audience of several hundred persons heard about the Department of Environment’s efforts in relation to shark research and conservation, which has had several major successes lately, among them being the discover of a school of ‘Scalloped’ Hammerhead sharks, a species that was thought to be locally extinct.

Tagging and tracking of sharks, as well as working with divers to report sightings has also been a major source of data for scientists within the Department.

Dr. Kohler said she and the team at DOE were pleased with the progress of conservation efforts, noting that the need to protect sharks in Cayman’s waters was realised less than ten years ago.

However, they are now protected under the National Conservation Act (2013, in force since 2015) because of their socio-economic and ecological benefits to the islands.

Known to be particularly vulnerable to human disturbances, sharks grow slowly, mature late, have long pregnancies and produce very few pups. As as result, it can take decades for natural increases in shark populations to occur.

Their importance to the marine ecosystem cannot be overstated, according to experts, who said the animals play a vital role in keeping the ocean balanced and thriving.

While the main threat is fishing other threats to sharks also include coastal development, habitat degradation, pollution and climate change.

Local threats to sharks include:

• Injuries or death through accidental catch.

• Death from entanglement in abandoned fishing gear.

• Habitat destruction & degradation through coastal development, removal of mangroves and pollution.

• Disturbance through human in-water activities (including SCUBA diving, boat traffic, jet skis).

If sharks are accidentally caught, the DOE said they should be responsibly released and noted their appreciation for the ‘….many anglers who make the effort to do the right thing.’

For information on how to release a shark, please visit our website www.doe.ky .

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