BIOT Marine Protected Area spans 544,000 square kilometers (210,040 square miles) and includes at least 70 islands and seven atolls. But this pristine area is also a crime scene— one that sharks helped crack wide open!

A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swimming in a coral reef that provides refuge and food for this predator. Many sharks rely on coral reefs to survive.

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In 2010 the British government created the BIOT Marine Protected Area (MPA) to conserve the unique biodiversity that called this region home, including several pelagic and reef shark species that use the sheltered atolls as nursery grounds or allow juveniles to start out life in the safe lagoons. There was concern that this paradise would crumble if not protected due to increased fishing pressure from neighboring countries like India and Sri Lanka.

Researchers from around the world have been monitoring shark population in the BIOT MPA since the 1970s, observing their steady decline in the past few decades and hoping the creations of the BIOT MPA would help slow down, stop, or even reverse. According to one study, the number of sharks observed per scientific dive sharply declined from a mean of 4.2 in the 1970s to 0.4 in2006 Where did they go? The biggest threats to our oceans, especially our sharks, is overfishing. Sharks are particularly vulnerable to increased fishing pressure due to being slow to mature and usually producing a few offspring. If you remove the juveniles, the pregnant females, or adults of a region… well, it’s going to take a long time for that location to recover. That is if it ever does.

Scientists studying sharks in the BIOT from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the University of Western Australia, and the Stanford University Hopkins Marine Station have teamed up to track the movements of the reef sharks since2013 The team acoustically tagged 47 grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and 48 silvertip sharks (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) in the marine reserve and monitored their movements within the BIOT between 2013 and2014 “Acoustic tags transmit a series of sound pluses (a bit like Morse code), which are picked up by hydrophones [receivers] to locate the position of a tagged animal,” David Tickler, a researcher from the University of Western Australia, told Mongabay. Tickler is studying the effects of illegal shark fishing in the Indian Ocean.

Shark fins laid out to dry on sidewalk in dry fish market of Hong Kong.

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Illegal fishing for sharks in the Indian Ocean isn’t anything new. In fact, illegal fishing for sharks happens worldwide and operations are found to be happening even in protected areas like the Galapagos Marine Reserve (6,000 sharks were found on one vessel alone). The main reason most fishing boats deliberately target sharks is for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup. A traditional Chinese dish that used to signify wealth, the consumption of this delicacy has decreased in China by 80 percent but has grown in other parts of Asia, such as Thailand and Vietnam. However, the BIOT sees a number of animals in the catch and bycatch composition of illegal fishing vessels such as tuna, snapper, barracuda, grouper, and more.

Catching illegal activity on the open seas is hard. So how did acoustic transmitters help researchers find out there was some happening in the BIOT MPA? “When we were putting these tags in, we wanted to find out what areas within the marine protected area and the archipelago are more or less important at certain times of the year than other,” said David Curnick, a ZSL researcher who looks at the relationship between marine reserves and sharks. This meant that if there were social clusters of these sharks during a particular time (season) in a particular space, then you could better protect those areas.

Before April 2014, BIOT shark researchers lost about four tags per month. However, in December that year, 15 tags just suddenly disappeared. Acoustic tags are usually implanted, meaning that unlike many other tags they don’t just fall off. While they could malfunction, the shark could swim out of range, or the shark carrying the tag could be eaten, the unusually high number of tags that disappeared was alarming… and made the researchers think something fishy was going on. A BIOT patrol encountered 17 suspected illegal fishing vessels in December 2014, coinciding with the dates the tags stopped transmitting. Authorities caught two of those vessels and found 359 sharks, with grey reef and silvertips making half of that catch. Modelling these events and when the tags were lost, the team was able to prove that there was a link between the loss of their tags and the illegal fishing vessels of December2014 “Our study showed that a small number of tags (fewer than 50) was sufficient to detect an illegal fishing event, most likely because we were monitoring one of the key target species of the illegal fishery,” said Tickler. The team also used historical fishing data to calculate that a possible 2,000 or more sharks were captured that month, with more than 200 grey reef sharks and 900 silvertip sharks being a part of that catch. To put that into perspective how devastating this is, these numbers mean there was a possible loss of one-third of the shark population in that part of the BIOT.

The scientists’ graph displaying the trend in tag loss rate from April 2013 to April2015 In December 2014, there is a sudden drop-off, which represents the 15 tags that stopped recording data. Image is Figure 1 of Tickler et al (2019), “Potential detection of illegal fishing by passive acoustic telemetry” in Animal Biotelemetry, CC 4.0

Animal Biotelemetry, CC 4.0

The technology isn’t quite there yet to make this a real-time thing; after all, it took the scientists months after the fact to get the data and then analyse it. But the fact they were able to find a link gives them hope. David Jacoby, a ZSL researcher who is studying the shark social networks in this MPA believes that “if [scientists] can identify ecological hotspots of shark aggregations or areas where [people] see high movements between specific areas, and we know at what time of year they occur, then [researchers] can direct the enforcement vessels to be there at that time on the off-chance that fishermen also have that information and are purposely targeting that area.” Here’s hoping this revelation is a step in that direction.

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The Chagos Island Chain in the Indian Ocean, likewise referred to as the British Indian Ocean Area( BIOT), is among the biggest marine reserves on the planet. Developed in2010, the BIOT Marine Protected Location periods544,(****************************************************************************************** )square kilometers (210,040 square miles) and consists of a minimum of 70 islands and 7 atolls. However this beautiful location is likewise a criminal offense scene– one that sharks assisted fracture large open!

A blacktip reef shark( Carcharhinus melanopterus )swimming in a reef that supplies haven and food for this predator. Lots of sharks depend on reef to endure.

Getty

In 2010 the British federal government produced the BIOT Marine Protected Location (MPA) to save the distinct biodiversity that called this area house, consisting of numerous pelagic and reef shark types that utilize the protected atolls as nursery premises or enable juveniles to start life in the safe lagoons. There was issue that this paradise would collapse if not secured due to increased fishing pressure from surrounding nations like India and Sri Lanka.

Scientists from around the globe have actually been keeping an eye on shark population in the BIOT MPA considering that the 1970 s, observing their constant decrease in the previous couple of years and hoping the productions of the BIOT MPA would assist decrease, stop, or perhaps reverse. According to one research study, the variety of sharks observed per clinical dive greatly decreased from a mean of 4.2 in the 1970 s to 0.4 in2006 Where did they go? The most significant hazards to our oceans, particularly our sharks, is overfishing. Sharks are especially susceptible to increased fishing pressure due to being sluggish to develop and typically producing a couple of offspring. If you get rid of the juveniles, the pregnant women, or grownups of an area … well, it’s going to take a very long time for that area to recuperate. That is if it ever does.

Researchers studying sharks in the BIOT from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the University of Western Australia, and the Stanford University Hopkins Marine Station have actually collaborated to track the motions of the reef sharks considering that2013 The group acoustically tagged 47 grey reef sharks ( Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and 48 silvertip sharks ( Carcharhinus albimarginatus) in the marine reserve and monitored their motions within the BIOT in between 2013 and2014 “Acoustic tags send a series of sound pluses (a bit like Morse code), which are gotten by hydrophones [receivers] to find the position of a tagged animal,” David Tickler, a scientist from the University of Western Australia, informed Mongabay Tickler is studying the impacts of prohibited shark fishing in the Indian Ocean.

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Shark fins set out to dry on walkway in dry fish market of Hong Kong.

Getty

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Prohibited fishing for sharks in the Indian Ocean isn’t anything brand-new In truth, prohibited fishing for sharks takes place around the world and operations are discovered to be occurring even in safeguarded locations like the Galapagos Marine Reserve ( 6,000 sharks were discovered on one vessel alone). The primary factor many fishing boats intentionally target sharks is for their fins, which are utilized in shark fin soup. A standard Chinese meal that utilized to represent wealth, the usage of this special has reduced in China by 80 percent however has actually grown in other parts of Asia, such as Thailand and Vietnam. Nevertheless, the BIOT sees a variety of animals in the catch and bycatch structure of prohibited fishing vessels such as tuna, snapper, barracuda, grouper, and more.

Capturing prohibited activity on the ocean blues is hard. So how did acoustic transmitters assist scientists discover there was some occurring in the BIOT MPA? “When we were putting these tags in, we wished to discover what locations within the marine safeguarded location and the island chain are basically essential at particular times of the year than other,” stated David Curnick, a ZSL scientist who takes a look at the relationship in between marine reserves and sharks. This indicated that if there were social clusters of these sharks throughout a specific time (season) in a specific area, then you might much better secure those locations.

Prior To April 2014, BIOT shark scientists lost about 4 tags monthly. Nevertheless, in December that year, 15 tags simply all of a sudden vanished. Acoustic tags are typically implanted, implying that unlike numerous other tags they do not simply fall off. While they might malfunction, the shark might swim out of variety, or the shark bring the tag might be consumed, the uncommonly high variety of tags that vanished was worrying … and made the scientists believe something fishy was going on. A BIOT patrol experienced 17 believed prohibited fishing vessels in December 2014, accompanying the dates the tags stopped transferring. Authorities captured 2 of those vessels and discovered 359 sharks, with grey reef and silvertips making half of that catch. Designing these occasions and when the tags were lost, the group had the ability to show that there was a link in between the loss of their tags and the prohibited fishing vessels of December2014 “Our research study revealed that a little number of tags (less than 50) sufficed to spot a prohibited fishing occasion, probably due to the fact that we were keeping an eye on among the essential target types of the prohibited fishery,” stated Tickler. The group likewise utilized historic fishing information to determine that a possible 2,000 or more sharks were recorded that month, with more than 200 grey reef sharks and 900 silvertip sharks belonging of that catch. To put that into viewpoint how ravaging this is, these numbers indicate there was a possible loss of one-third of the shark population because part of the BIOT.

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The researchers’ chart showing the pattern in tag loss rate from April 2013 to April2015 In December 2014, there is an unexpected drop-off, which represents the 15 tags that stopped taping information. Image is Figure 1 of Tickler et al (2019), “Prospective detection of prohibited fishing by passive acoustic telemetry” in Animal Biotelemetry, CC 4.0

Animal Biotelemetry, CC 4.0

The innovation isn’t rather there yet to make this a real-time thing; after all, it took the researchers months after the truth to get the information and after that evaluate it. However the truth they had the ability to discover a link provides hope. David Jacoby, a ZSL scientist who is studying the shark socials media in this MPA thinks that “if [scientists] can determine eco-friendly hotspots of shark aggregations or locations where [people] see high motions in between particular locations, and we understand at what season they happen, then [researchers] can direct the enforcement vessels to be there at that time on the off-chance that anglers likewise have that details and are intentionally targeting that location.” Here’s hoping this discovery is an action in that instructions.

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516196760648″ >

The Chagos Island Chain in the Indian Ocean, likewise referred to as the British Indian Ocean Area (BIOT), is among the biggest marine reserves on the planet. Developed in 2010, the BIOT Marine Protected Location periods 544, 000 square kilometers (210, 040 square miles) and consists of a minimum of 70 islands and 7 atolls. However this beautiful location is likewise a criminal offense scene– one that sharks assisted fracture large open!

.

.

A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swimming in a reef that supplies haven and food for this predator. Lots of sharks depend on reef to endure.

Getty

.

.

In 2010 the British federal government produced the BIOT Marine Protected Location (MPA) to save the distinct biodiversity that called this area house, consisting of numerous pelagic and reef shark types that utilize the protected atolls as nursery premises or enable juveniles to start life in the safe lagoons. There was issue that this paradise would collapse if not secured due to increased fishing pressure from surrounding nations like India and Sri Lanka.

Scientists from around the globe have actually been keeping an eye on shark population in the BIOT MPA considering that the 1970 s, observing their constant decrease in the previous couple of years and hoping the productions of the BIOT MPA would assist decrease, stop, or perhaps reverse. According to one research study , the variety of sharks observed per clinical dive greatly decreased from a mean of 4.2 in the 1970 s to 0.4 in2006 Where did they go? The most significant hazards to our oceans, particularly our sharks, is overfishing. Sharks are especially susceptible to increased fishing pressure due to being sluggish to develop and typically producing a couple of offspring. If you get rid of the juveniles, the pregnant women, or grownups of an area … well, it’s going to take a very long time for that area to recuperate. That is if it ever does.

Researchers studying sharks in the BIOT from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the University of Western Australia, and the Stanford University Hopkins Marine Station have actually collaborated to track the motions of the reef sharks considering that2013 The group acoustically tagged 47 grey reef sharks ( Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and 48 silvertip sharks ( Carcharhinus albimarginatus ) in the marine reserve and monitored their motions within the BIOT in between 2013 and2014 “Acoustic tags send a series of sound pluses (a bit like Morse code), which are gotten by hydrophones [receivers] to find the position of a tagged animal,” David Tickler, a scientist from the University of Western Australia, informed Mongabay Tickler is studying the impacts of prohibited shark fishing in the Indian Ocean.

.

.

Shark fins set out to dry on walkway in dry fish market of Hong Kong.

Getty

.

.

Prohibited fishing for sharks in the Indian Ocean isn’t anything brand-new In truth, prohibited fishing for sharks takes place around the world and operations are discovered to be occurring even in safeguarded locations like the Galapagos Marine Reserve ( 6, 000 sharks were discovered on one vessel alone ). The primary factor many fishing boats intentionally target sharks is for their fins, which are utilized in shark fin soup. A standard Chinese meal that utilized to represent wealth, the usage of this special has reduced in China by 80 percent however has actually grown in other parts of Asia, such as Thailand and Vietnam. Nevertheless, the BIOT sees a variety of animals in the catch and bycatch structure of prohibited fishing vessels such as tuna, snapper, barracuda, grouper, and more.

Capturing prohibited activity on the ocean blues is hard. So how did acoustic transmitters assist scientists discover there was some occurring in the BIOT MPA? “When we were putting these tags in, we wished to discover what locations within the marine safeguarded location and the island chain are basically essential at particular times of the year than other,” stated David Curnick, a ZSL scientist who takes a look at the relationship in between marine reserves and sharks. This indicated that if there were social clusters of these sharks throughout a specific time (season) in a specific area, then you might much better secure those locations.

Prior To April 2014, BIOT shark scientists lost about 4 tags monthly. Nevertheless, in December that year, 15 tags simply all of a sudden vanished. Acoustic tags are typically implanted, implying that unlike numerous other tags they do not simply fall off. While they might malfunction, the shark might swim out of variety, or the shark bring the tag might be consumed, the uncommonly high variety of tags that vanished was worrying … and made the scientists believe something fishy was going on. A BIOT patrol experienced 17 believed prohibited fishing vessels in December 2014, accompanying the dates the tags stopped transferring. Authorities captured 2 of those vessels and discovered 359 sharks, with grey reef and silvertips making half of that catch. Designing these occasions and when the tags were lost, the group had the ability to show that there was a link in between the loss of their tags and the prohibited fishing vessels of December2014 “Our research study revealed that a little number of tags (less than 50) sufficed to spot a prohibited fishing occasion, probably due to the fact that we were keeping an eye on among the essential target types of the prohibited fishery,” stated Tickler. The group likewise utilized historic fishing information to determine that a possible 2, 000 or more sharks were recorded that month, with more than 200 grey reef sharks and 900 silvertip sharks belonging of that catch. To put that into viewpoint how ravaging this is, these numbers indicate there was a possible loss of one-third of the shark population because part of the BIOT.

.

.

The researchers’ chart showing the pattern in tag loss rate from April 2013 to April2015 In December 2014, there is an unexpected drop-off, which represents the 15 tags that stopped taping information. Image is Figure 1 of Tickler et al (2019), “Prospective detection of prohibited fishing by passive acoustic telemetry” in Animal Biotelemetry, CC 4.0

Animal Biotelemetry, CC 4.0

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The innovation isn’t rather there yet to make this a real-time thing; after all, it took the researchers months after the truth to get the information and after that evaluate it. However the truth they had the ability to discover a link provides hope. David Jacoby, a ZSL scientist who is studying the shark socials media in this MPA thinks that “if [scientists] can determine eco-friendly hotspots of shark aggregations or locations where [people] see high motions in between particular locations, and we understand at what season they happen, then [researchers] can direct the enforcement vessels to be there at that time on the off-chance that anglers likewise have that details and are intentionally targeting that location.” Here’s hoping this discovery is an action in that instructions.