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Marine Life & Conservation

Indonesia’s First Shark Sanctuary

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Shark and Ray conservation is high on the agenda of many scientists and is a subject written about by even more conservationists. I am getting quite a few shark conservation blogs coming through now as more people are driven to write and share their experiences and feelings. All I can say is keep them coming. It shows we care.

We are finally getting into an era where people who are not directly involved with environmental or biological sciences are getting more conscious about our planet’s endangered natural sources. However, the knowledge that actually manages to get to our societies is limited and seems to be very focused on a couple of global ‘fashion’ issues like climate change, saving the dolphins, or transgenic corn.  Nothing against that, but there are so many scientific studies, so many other important topics, and so little that passes to our society that it almost seems like a waste. This narrowed-down flow of information also creates a phenomenon that is sort of known as ‘the science/society gap’ where much needed information gets lost. So now I’m writing about the science I’m involved with, not reinventing the wheel here, but instead aiming to ‘fill in some of the gap’ on the topics I love and study: marine conservation and sharks-&-rays .

Now, one of the biggest recent news for sharks & rays is the declaration of a shark sanctuary in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia (http://blog.conservation.org/2013/02/raja-ampat-launches-indonesias-first-shark-sanctuary/). This is the first shark sanctuary in Indonesia and is a major achievement of the local Papuan communities, Indonesia’s government, and NGOs (Non-government organizations) working in this area. But to understand what the problem is with sharks & rays and why this sanctuary is such an achievement, I will start by explaining what the problem is.

black-tip-sharks

Black tip sharks are now protected in the Shark Sanctuary.

Besides being amazing creatures, sharks & rays are predators and have a very important role in keeping a balanced and healthy marine ecosystem. On the other hand, their populations support intensive fisheries and, therefore, human livelihoods all over the world. Sharks & rays occur in every ocean and in every ocean they are fished: from Mexico to Chile, from Japan to Australia, from UK to Cairo, from India to South Africa; everywhere. Generally, the meat is locally consumed, but the biggest trade and threat is their fins and/or gills which get exported to China to be used in traditional medicine and in traditional soup. Problem is, these animals grow very slow, they take a long time to be mature enough to reproduce, they have low numbers of pups, and they reproduce nowhere near as often as other fish that support similar intensity of fishery like tuna; their life characteristics are more similar of that of a whale or an elephant than that of a tuna or a sardine. The consequence of this is that sharks & rays cannot keep up with the intensive fishing they are subject of, nor do they have much chance to recover after been overfished.

The brighter side is that the importance of sharks & rays has been recognized in science for a while now, and it’s finally getting recognized too by the general public and government policy as noted with the recent addition of some species of sharks to the CITES list. Many countries, particularly those we called ‘developed nations’, have invested efforts in managing and conserving their populations of sharks and rays. However, many other nations are big consumers of this resource and have much less capacity for management or alternative of food sources.

Indonesia is one of the nations with the highest diversity of marine life but, sadly, it also has the largest fishery of sharks & rays in the world.

In a remote corner of Eastern Indonesia, although in the centre of the Coral Triangle (http://worldwildlife.org/places/coral-triangle), the government of a beautiful archipelago called Raja Ampat has managed to declare their waters a sanctuary where no extraction of sharks & rays should happen from now on. The local communities do not depend on this resource but are rather interested in looking after what is traditionally considered their water territories. Foreign fisheries are responsible for the shark & ray fishing in this area and they do this illegally. Moreover, the diving and marine eco-tourism industry at Raja Ampat is growing, providing an opportunity for an ‘environmentally conscious’ tourism that can appreciate this magnificent creatures alive rather than dead. The potential for sharks & rays to provide better incomes and livelihoods through tourism in this area is huge. So, I honestly think this is a great achievement and I may even venture to say that Indonesia is now one of the leaders in sharks and rays conservation!

manta-rays

Manta rays are also protected in the Shark Sanctuary.

However, it’s quite not the end but rather the start of sharks & rays conservation in this area. It was a long way and significant hard work was invested by many people to get this sanctuary finally declared, but there is still more work to do to implement it and monitor its success. Education, implementation, and monitoring of sharks & rays populations should now be the next steps to make this spot a real sanctuary where these amazing animals don’t go extinct and yet aid in the economic sustainability of the local communities.

So now I wonder, who’d be next nation lining up for sharks & rays protection?

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The Ocean Cleanup to Complete 100th Extraction Live from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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the ocean cleanup
  • The Ocean Cleanup marks 100th extraction of plastic pollution from the Pacific Ocean by livestreaming entire cleaning operation from start to finish.
  • Occasion brings together supporters, partners, donors and followers as the project readies its cleanup technology for scale-up.
  • Founder and CEO Boyan Slat to provide insight on the plans ahead.

The Ocean Cleanup is set to reach a milestone of 100 plastic extractions from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Extraction #100, scheduled for 28 or 29 May 2024, will be the first ever to be livestreamed direct from the Pacific Ocean, allowing supporters and partners around the world to see up close how the organization has removed over 385,000 kilograms (nearly 850,000 lbs) of plastic from the GPGP so far – more than double the bare weight of the Statue of Liberty.

the ocean cleanup

The mission of The Ocean Cleanup is to rid the oceans of plastic. To do this, the non-profit project employs a dual strategy: cleaning up legacy floating plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (the world’s largest accumulation of floating plastic), while stopping the flow of plastic from the world’s most polluting rivers.

The Ocean Cleanup captured its first plastic (the first ‘extraction’) in the GPGP in 2019 with System 001, following years of trials and testing with a variety of concepts. Through System 002 and now the larger and more efficient System 03, the organization has consistently improved and optimized operations, and is now preparing to extract plastic trash from the GPGP for the 100th time.

the ocean cleanup

Extraction #100 will be an interactive broadcast showing the entire extraction procedure live and in detail, with insight provided by representatives from across The Ocean Cleanup and partners contributing to the operations.

This is an important milestone in a key year for The Ocean Cleanup.’ said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. ‘We’ve come a long way since our first extraction in 2019. During the 2024 season, with System 03, we aim to demonstrate that we are ready to scale up, and with it, confine the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the history books.

the ocean cleanup

The livestream will be hosted on The Ocean Cleanup’s YouTube channel and via X. Monitor @theoceancleanup for confirmed timings.

www.theoceancleanup.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Dive with a Purpose: Shark Guardian’s Expedition Galapagos

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Shark Guardian has just unveiled their largest and most exciting expedition yet: a seven-night, eight-day adventure in August 2026 aboard the Galaxy Diver II, a state-of-the-art
vessel specifically designed for divers exploring the enchanting waters of the Galapagos
Islands. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage deeply with marine
conservation in one of the world’s most revered diving destinations.

Shark Guardian is a UK registered charity dedicated to protecting sharks and marine
ecosystems worldwide. Founded by marine biologists and conservationists, Brendon
Sing and Liz Ward-Sing, Shark Guardian leads educational programs, research projects,
campaigns and expeditions aimed at fostering a better understanding and respect for
marine life. Their work spans several continents and focuses on direct action,
education, and advocacy.

Shark Guardian’s ethos revolves around the concept of “diving with a purpose.” This
philosophy underscores the importance of not just experiencing the wonders of the
underwater world but actively learning and contributing to its preservation. Participants
in Shark Guardian expeditions engage in citizen science projects, which involve
collecting data that supports ongoing research and conservation efforts. These
activities empower divers to make a tangible difference, turning each dive into an act of
conservation.

One of the newer additions to the Galapagos diving scene, the Galaxy Diver II, is
specifically tailored for divers. Its design prioritises comfort, safety, and environmental
responsibility. The vessel boasts modern amenities, spacious dive decks, and the latest
navigational technology, ensuring that every dive is not only memorable but also has
minimal environmental impact.

A highlight of this expedition is the opportunity to dive at Wolf and Darwin islands,
renowned for their vibrant, untouched marine ecosystems and as a haven for large
pelagic species. These islands are famous for their schools of hammerhead sharks,
whale sharks, and manta rays, offering spectacular diving that attracts enthusiasts from
around the globe.

Shark Guardian have developed this trip to ensure a hassle-free experience. The
expedition package also includes internal flights from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos,
plus accommodation in Quito before and after the trip. This allows divers to relax and
enjoy the experience without worrying about logistics.

Participants will join a diverse group of passionate divers and conservationists. This trip
offers a unique opportunity to network with like-minded individuals who are eager to
learn about and contribute to marine conservation. It’s a chance to share experiences,
knowledge, and a commitment to protecting the marine world.

sharks

Shark Guardian is offering an early bird price available until May 31st 2024. This special
rate provides a fantastic opportunity to secure a spot on this exclusive expedition at a
reduced cost. Availability is limited, so interested divers are encouraged to act quickly
to ensure they don’t miss out. All the details can be found on their WeTravel page, where
bookings can be made easily and payment instalments are available.

Expedition Galapagos, aboard the Galaxy Diver II offers more than just a diving
holiday—it is an investment in both personal and planetary well-being. By participating,
divers not only witness the majesty of one of the world’s premier diving locales but also
contribute to its preservation for future generations.

Find out more about Shark Guardian at www.sharkguardian.org.

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