The Beacon

Blog Tags: Sharks

Sights on CITES: Shark Showdown

This is the eighth in a series of dispatches from the CITES conference in Doha, Qatar.

More difficult news out of Doha today.

While seven of the eight proposed shark species (including several species of hammerheads, oceanic whitetip and spiny dogfish) were not included in Appendix II, the one bright spot was for the porbeagle shark, which is threatened by widespread consumption in Europe.

The porbeagle’s Appendix II listing is a huge improvement because it requires the use of export permits to ensure that the species are caught by a legal and sustainably managed fishery.

And there is a slight chance that the other shark decisions could be reversed during the plenary session in the final two days.

Here are Oceana scientists Elizabeth Griffin and Rebecca Greenberg reflecting on the shark decisions:


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Sights on CITES: Hope for Sharks

This is the seventh in a series of posts from CITES. Check out the rest of the dispatches from Doha here.

While CITES has disappointed so far on bluefin tuna and corals, there's hope yet for sharks

Eight shark species have been proposed for listing to Appendix II of CITES, including the oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, dusky, sandbar, smooth hammerhead, great hammerhead, porbeagle and spiny dogfish.

Listing these species, which are threatened by shark finning, is necessary to ensure international trade does not drive these shark species to extinction.

Here's Oceana's Ann Schroeer from our Brussels office with an optimistic outlook on the upcoming shark proposals at CITES.

 


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Sights on CITES: Rough Day for Sharks

This is the fourth in a series of posts from CITES. Read the rest of the CITES dispatches here.

It was an eventful day at CITES for sharks. Oceana released a report today about the international trade of shark fins, and a non-controversial, non-binding measure on sharks failed to pass. Marine scientist Elizabeth Griffin talks about today's roller coaster ride. 

 


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Sights on CITES: An Insider's Tour

This is the third in a series of posts from CITES. Check out the rest of our dispatches here,

In today's dispatch from Doha, Oceana shark scientist Rebecca Greenberg gives us an insider's tour of CITES, from the main conference hall to one of the most important strategic lobbying areas: the coffee station.

You can also read updates from author Charles Clover on MarViva's Doha Diary blog.

 


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Sights on CITES: Getting Started

Here's a second CITES video dispatch from today, this time from Max Bello, a campaigner from our Chile office. (Read the rest of the dispatches here.)

 


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Sights on CITES: En Route

This is the first in a series of posts from CITES. Read the rest of the dispatches here.

CITES is now in session in Doha, Qatar. Our team will be there for the next 10 days pushing for further trade restrictions on corals, sharks and the Atlantic bluefin tuna. They sent us this video dispatch of campaign director Dave Allison from the airport en route. Stay tuned for more!


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The Scanner: Sights on CITES Edition

bluefin tuna

© Oceana/Keith Ellenbogen

Happy Friday!

As we speak, an Oceana team is headed to the CITES conference in Doha, Qatar, which begins tomorrow. We will be bringing you updates from the conference as we push for trade restrictions for bluefin tuna, corals and sharks.

CITES wasn't the only thing on the ocean radar this week, though. Check out the rest of this week's stories:

…Scientists have found that oxygen-starved pockets of the ocean, known as dead zones, can contribute to climate change. The increased amount of nitrous oxide produced in low-oxygen waters can elevate concentrations in the atmosphere, exacerbating the impacts of global warming and contributing to holes in the ozone layer.

… OK, this one’s a little gross -- but also really cool. Forensic researchers recently dropped several dead pigs into an ocean dead zone off Vancouver Island to gain insight into how fast cadavers in an ocean can disappear thanks to scavengers. Marine researchers took advantage of the study to do their own by using an underwater camera to see what kinds of animals fed on the disintegrating dead pigs -- and how long they could tolerate low-oxygen zones. While crabs, shrimp and starfish normally stay at shallower depths (where there’s more oxygen), the scavengers pushed their limits for the pig pickin’. Who knew swine could be such a boon for ocean science?


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Carnival of the Blue #34

The latest edition of the Carnival of the Blue is up at Southern Fried Science, complete with cool new shark logo.

Check out this month's submissions on everything from nudibranchs to great white sharks to a list of 50 interesting Wikipedia articles about the oceans.


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Q&A with Shark Biologist Michelle McComb

michelle mccomb

Michelle McComb with juvenile scalloped hammerhead sharks at the Hawaiian Institute of Maine Biology at Coconut Island. © Dr. Stephen Kajiura.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Biology made big news late last year by beginning to answer a fundamental, fable-like question: why are hammerhead sharks shaped the way they are? The answer, as it turns out? The better to see their prey with, my dear.

The researchers found some surprising results about hammerhead vision. One of those researchers, Michelle "Mikki" McComb of Florida Atlantic University, happens to also be an enthusiastic Oceana supporter. Mikki was kind enough to answer some questions about the research:

Can you summarize the conclusions you and your colleagues reached about hammerhead vision? 

The popular literature is filled with claims that hammerheads have better vision, but this was never tested.  Our goal was to quantify the extent of the visual fields of hammerhead sharks in contrast to more typical head shaped sharks, in order to determine if they possessed binocular vision.

The visual field is the entire expanse of space visible around the head and can be described by one eyes field of view (monocular field), two eyes field (cyclopean) and the overlap of the two monocular fields (binocular overlap). We determined the horizontal and vertical visual fields of three hammerhead shark species as well two closely related “typical” shaped sharks. 

What we found was a surprise!  Hammerhead sharks do have binocular vision, and even more surprising, the extent of binocular overlaps was greater than found in the “typical” shaped sharks.  The largest binocular overlap was found in the winghead shark, the hammerhead with the widest head, and is a result of the positioning of the eyes on the end of the head. 


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A Sea of Football Fans

Hey there ocean fans… are you ready for the NFL playoffs? No? Well even if you aren’t, the animals at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the New England Aquarium sure are ready for the first round when the Baltimore Ravens play against the New England Patriots this Sunday afternoon.

Jen Bloomer, the Media Relations Manager for the National Aquarium and good friend of mine, just sent me an email with videos from each aquarium rooting for their respective teams.

Check out some of Baltimore’s other birds (Margaret and Louise) showing what they think the Ravens will do to the Patriots.

“We know the Ravens aren’t the only birds in town that like to destroy things,” Jen told me as we exchanged some pro-Ravens emails today. “Margaret and Louise love to show off for our visitors and the camera, and apparently love to support their fellow birds!”

 

Not to be outdone, the Harbor Seals at the New England Aquarium fired back with a message of their own.


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