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Marine Life & Conservation

First study of Zebra Sharks in Africa reveals new hotspot in need of protection



A new study by Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), in collaboration with Swansea University and All Out Africa, is the first to describe a population of endangered zebra sharks (also commonly called leopard sharks) in Africa. The study reveals a key global hotspot and potential breeding area. Based on these findings, scientists recommend species-level protection and expansion of marine protected areas, to safeguard this charismatic species.

The study used structured underwater surveys and identification photos submitted by scuba diver “citizen scientists” to track individual sharks. Additionally, interviews with 100 local fishermen were used to identify potential zebra shark habitats, who are unfortunately most likely to encounter the animals as bycatch in gillnets. Information from underwater surveys created similar distribution maps and habitat modeling also identified new possible hotspot locations that merit future underwater surveys.

Whatever it is, the way you tell your story online can make all the difference.

Lead author, Saoirse Pottie explains, “This study adds credibility to using a multi-faceted approach to collect baseline data for marine species. When used in combination, fishers’ observations and dive surveys can complement each other. Fisher surveys can collect sightings information at a wider spatial scale than underwater surveys, yet dive surveys are capable of providing more in-depth information on the movement and behavior of individuals.”

The authors hope to inspire other researchers working in data-deficient locations. “This approach could be applied in other regions to highlight areas of interest, prioritize research activities, and inform conservation actions. The inclusion of local knowledge also provides an opportunity to enrich our understanding of social-ecological systems, engage local communities, and make environmental decisions that are more inclusive,” continues Pottie.

Photos taken by scientists and recreational scuba divers between 2010 and 2018 identified 90 individual sharks of both sexes. 38% of sharks were seen in multiple years, indicating an affinity for the area. Over 62% of the sharks were mature. The high frequency of both male and female adult sharks in a small area indicates a breeding area, which is a prime habitat for protection.

Whatever it is, the way you tell your story online can make all the difference.

While zebra sharks are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, they lack formal protection in Mozambique, and the majority of the suitable zebra shark habitat identified in this study remains unprotected. According to co-author Anna Flam, an MMF scientist, “This is one of the world’s largest identified populations of zebra sharks and we should protect them, otherwise, we could see them disappear, as has happened in parts of Southeast Asia.”

Recreational scuba divers also assisted in data collection. Zebra sharks have unique spot patterns that can be used to identify individuals and track them over time. Identification photos contributed by scuba divers allowed researchers to increase the scope of data capture. Over the course of this study, the researchers helped create the Wildbook for Leopard Sharks, a global online database that allows scuba divers to submit their photos to support research around the world.

Click here to read the full study published in the journal Ocean and Coastal Management.

For more information about the Marine Megafauna Foundation visit their website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit

Marine Life & Conservation

Double Bubble for Basking Sharks



The Shark Trust is excited to announce that, for two more days only, all donations, large or small, will be doubled in the Big Give Green Match Fund!

Donate to Basking in Nature: Sighting Giants

The Shark Trust is hoping to raise £10k which will be doubled to £20k. This will go towards Basking in Nature: Sighting Giants. And they need YOUR help to reach they’re goal.

The Shark Trust’s citizen science project is to monitor and assess basking sharks through sightings; encouraging data collection, community engagement, and promoting nature accessibility. This initiative aims to enhance health and wellbeing by fostering a deeper connection with British Sharks.

Campaign Aims

  • Increase citizen science reporting of Basking Sharks and other shark sightings to help inform shark and ray conservation.
  • Provide educational talks about the diverse range of sharks and rays in British waters and accessible identification guides!
  • Create engaging and fun information panels on how to ID the amazing sharks and rays we have on our doorstep! These can be used on coastal paths around the Southwest. With activities and information on how you can make a difference for sharks and rays!
  • Promote mental wellbeing through increasing time in nature and discovering the wonders beneath the waves!

Donate, and double your impact. Click Here

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Marine Life & Conservation

Leading UK-based shark conservation charity, the Shark Trust, is delighted to announce tour operator Diverse Travel as a Corporate Patron



Corporate Patrons provide a valuable boost to the work of The Shark Trust. The Trust team works globally to safeguard the future of sharks, and their close cousins, the skates and rays, engaging with a global network of scientists, policymakers, conservation professionals, businesses and supporters to further shark conservation.

Specialist tour operator Diverse Travel has operated since 2014 and is committed to offering its guests high quality, sustainable scuba diving holidays worldwide. Working together with the Shark Trust will enable both organisations to widen engagement and encourage divers and snorkellers to actively get involved in shark conservation.

Sharks are truly at the heart of every diver and at Diverse Travel, we absolutely share that passion. There is nothing like seeing a shark in the wild – it’s a moment that stays with you forever!” says Holly Bredin, Sales & Marketing Manager, Diverse Travel.

We’re delighted to celebrate our 10th year of business by becoming a Corporate Patron of the Shark Trust. This is an exciting partnership for Diverse and our guests. We will be donating on behalf of every person who books a holiday with us to contribute towards their vital shark conservation initiatives around the world. We will also be working together with the Trust to inspire divers, snorkellers and other travellers to take an active role – at home and abroad – in citizen science projects and other activities.”

Paul Cox, CEO of The Shark Trust, said:

It’s an exciting partnership and we’re thrilled to be working with Diverse Travel to enable more divers and travellers to get involved with sharks and shark conservation. Sharks face considerable conservation challenges but, through collaboration and collective action, we can secure a brighter future for sharks and their ocean home. This new partnership takes us one more valuable step towards that goal.”

For more information about the Shark Trust visit their website here.

For more about Diverse Travel click here.

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