PADI® and Swiss prestige watchmaker, Blancpain are combining resources to work towards saving 30% of the ocean by 2030 – with the two organisations teaming up to create the Vulnerable Marine Species Program. Blancpain’s support will be key in funding the Global Shark & Ray Census, a new citizen science initiative that is slated to launch Earth Day 2024 and is designed to help protect vulnerable marine species around the globe from extinction.
PADI and Blancpain have been kindred spirits in Ocean conservation starting over two decades ago with a whale shark identification project. This latest evolution comes one year after both organisations announced an expanded commitment to partner and increase the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) around the globe. As a founding partner of PADI’s Blueprint for Ocean Action, Blancpain accelerated the creation of PADI’s MPA Program and its flagship citizen science program Adopt the Blue™. Millions of recreational divers now have the direct ability to choose to be Ocean Torchbearers and directly engage in meaningful marine conservation activities while exploring the Ocean.
“Blancpain has long been committed to real engagement in Ocean Conservation issues. Working together, will be a force multiplier in achieving our shared Ocean Conservation goals” says Dr. Drew Richardson, CEO of PADI Worldwide and Chairman of PADI AWARE Foundation. “Blancpain’s expanded support of PADI’s Vulnerable Marine Species Program forges a juggernaut combining the Blancpain Ocean Commitment with the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action in advancing positive ocean change.”
Now, with the generous support from Blancpain, PADI and global non-profit partner PADI AWARE FoundationTM will build and deploy the largest underwater citizen science program designed to protect sharks and rays from extinction. In addition, PADI AWARE Foundation’s Mission Hub Community Grant Program will include support for both MPA and Vulnerable Marine Species Grantees internationally and at a local level. These grants support critical conservation initiatives in local communities all around the world.
PADI AWARE Foundation is among the world’s most successful shark and ray conservation organisations, with a 30-year track record of groundbreaking conservation measures for the oceanic whitetip shark, great hammerhead, giant manta ray, whale shark, and mako sharks – along with many other vulnerable species. Last year at CITES (the Convention on Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in Panama City. PADI was invited to CITES and asked to provide specialist advice and research to all attending government representatives. This helped secure support for a critical vote to double the amount of protected shark and ray species. To date, the PADI AWARE Foundation and PADI have helped secure protection measures for over 105 species of sharks and rays.
“With a growing base of divers interested in shark conservation, the Global Shark and Ray Census enables divers to function as diving citizen scientists in order to collect high-quality data and information on vulnerable shark species. Engaged divers across the planet who choose to participate will directly help accelerate national and global protection measures where they are needed most,” continues Richardson.
If you would like to personally support the PADI AWARE Foundation and Blancpain in creating positive ocean change, donations can be made to the PADI AWARE Shark Appeal. Blancpain has generously agreed to match donations 1:1 this SHARK Week, which will go towards supporting the development of the Vulnerable Species Program.
For more, visit www.padi.com
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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