The Shark Trust and Blue Planet aquarium teams have been busy installing the Oceanic 31 shark art exhibition which will open to the public on Saturday 26th August and will run until Sunday 1st October 2023.
The Shark Trust has brought together a group of artists who are passionate about sharks, conservation, and using art as a tool for positive change. Each of the 31 paintings, drawings, sculptures and digital media represents a species of shark or ray that lives in the open ocean.
2021 saw a review of the status of 31 oceanic shark and ray species. Of the 31 species reviewed, 24 are threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List. Some of these species are famous – like the Great White or Whale Shark. But others, like the Pygmy Longhorned Devil Ray – aren’t quite so well known. Featuring all 31 in this exhibition is a great way to showcase just how varied and amazing oceanic sharks and rays are.
Oceanic means relating to the high seas or open ocean. The species featured within Oceanic 31 all spend a large amount of time during their life here. These are the international waters beyond country borders, outside of normal jurisdiction and, crucially, at heightened risk from overexploitation due to a lack of agreed management and/or enforcement of regulation.
What can you do?
The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious campaign. By signing the petition, you can be part one of the biggest campaigning communities in the history of shark conservation. To put pressure on governments and fisheries. And make the positive changes required to safeguard these awesome sharks and rays.
Paul Cox, Shark Trust CEO, said “This exhibition gives us the opportunity to reach out to a new audience. And inspire more people with the wonderful sharks and rays on which our Big Shark Pledge campaign is based.”
Unable to attend in person? The Shark Trust has created a 360° virtual exhibition. No matter where you are in the world, you can experience this awe-inspiring artwork.
Limited edition prints of some of the artwork are available to buy. If you want the chance to bid for an original artwork you can register your interest to attend the final auction. All profits will go towards the Shark Trust Big Shark Pledge campaign, working to protect the magnificent sharks and rays that swim in the high seas.
To find out more visit: https://www.sharktrust.org/oceanic31
Project SIARC through to the finals of The National Lottery Awards
Project SIARC has been nominated alongside 16 other projects from across the UK to be named National Lottery Project of the Year.
The marine environment in Wales is teeming with life; beneath the often-murky waters are little understood species of shark, skate and ray (elasmobranchs) of conservation importance.
Project SIARC is catalysing links between fishers, researchers, communities and government to collaborate and safeguard elasmobranchs and support a green recovery in Wales.
“We are so grateful for this nomination – it’s thanks to all of our wonderful communities, partners and volunteers working with us to help safeguard and celebrate sharks, skates and rays in Wales”, commented Project SIARC Technical Specialist and regular Scubaverse contributor Jake Davies.
For more information about Project SIARC, visit https://www.projectsiarc.com/.
Silent Reef Keepers: The Fight to Save the Caribbean Reef Shark
The Kingdom of the Netherlands will ask for increased protection for the Caribbean reef shark during next month’s Conference of Parties for the Cartagena Convention (COPs) on Aruba. Caribbean reef sharks play a critical role in maintaining a healthy reef ecosystem and building resilience within the oceans. This increased protection is critical for ensuring a sustainable future for this iconic species.
The Caribbean Sea is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and a dazzling array of marine life. Among the charismatic inhabitants of this underwater paradise is the Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezii), a species that plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of coral reef ecosystems. In the Dutch Caribbean, these apex predators face mounting threats, but there is hope on the horizon. At the upcoming Conference of Parties for the Cartagena Convention (COPs), the Kingdom of the Netherlands will seek increased protection for these magnificent creatures by listing this species on Annex III of the SPAW Protocol. Annex III includes plant and animal species which require additional protection to ensure this species is able to adequately recover their populations in the Wider Caribbean Region.
Caribbean reef sharks thrive in warm, tropical waters of the Caribbean region, with a distribution range that stretches from Florida to Brazil. This species is one of the most encountered reef shark species throughout the whole Caribbean Sea. Growing up to 3m (9.8ft) in length, this shark is one of the largest apex predators in the reef ecosystem and is at the top of the marine food web, having only a few natural predators.
In addition to being of great economic value, as shark diving is a major draw for divers from around the world, this species is also critical for maintaining balance within the reef ecosystem. Their presence helps regulate the population of smaller prey species, which in turn, prevents overgrazing on seagrass beds and coral reefs and eliminates sick or weak fish from the population. This balance is essential for maintaining the health and diversity of the entire coral reef.
Despite their ecological and economic significance, Caribbean reef sharks in the Caribbean face numerous threats that have led to a population reduction estimated to be between 50–79% over the past 29 years. In the (Dutch) Caribbean this is mainly caused by:
Habitat Degradation: The degradation of coral reefs and seagrass beds due to climate change, pollution, and coastal development has a direct impact on the availability of prey for these sharks. Loss of habitat reduces their ability to find food and shelter.
Overfishing: Overfishing poses one of the most immediate threats to Caribbean reef sharks. They are often caught incidentally in commercial fisheries, where fishermen are targeting other species, or intentionally, where they are sought after for their fins, used in shark fin soup.
A Call for Increased Protection
There are different organizations and individuals working to protect sharks and their habitats in the Dutch Caribbean. A significant milestone was the establishment of protected areas such as the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary between Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. Another milestone was in 2019 when the Dutch government adopted an International Shark Strategy. The strategy sets out which protective and management actions for sharks and rays are to be taken by the government in all seas and oceans where the Netherlands has influence (including the Dutch Caribbean). Additional efforts are still needed to create more marine protected areas, enhance enforcement, reduce pollution in the ocean, and promote sustainable fishing practices. These species know no (political) boundaries and their protection requires broadscale conservation efforts within the Dutch Caribbean and beyond.
The Caribbean reef shark is a species of paramount importance to the (Dutch) Caribbean’s coral reefs. With the extra protection being requested during the next COPS meeting in Aruba, there is hope that this species will have a healthy future. By recognizing their ecological significance and the challenges they face, we can work together to ensure a brighter future for the Caribbean Reef Shark in the Dutch Caribbean and beyond.
The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) supports science communication and outreach in the Dutch Caribbean region by making nature-related scientific information more widely available through amongst others the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database, DCNA’s news platform BioNews and the press. This article contains the results from several scientific studies but the studies themselves are not DCNA studies. No rights can be derived from the content. DCNA is not liable for the content and the in(direct) impacts resulting from publishing this article.
Photo + photo credit: Jim Abernethy-all rights reserved
For more information, please contact: research@DCNAnature.org
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