Determining the status of hammerhead sharks in the Canary Islands

Pelagic shark populations are declining globally due to intensive fishing activities and low reproductive rates of these long-lived predators. In the last decade, as a consequence of greater concern for the conservation status of various shark species, some of these have been included in the CITES convention, in order to gather more information on their trade. The objective of this project is to obtain a basic knowledge about the population trends of the hammerhead shark in the Canary Islands, as well as to generate data on the structure of the population, the minimum population size and the distribution, using conventional marking techniques.

Spyrna sp.
Conservation Status: Category EN (Endangered) on the IUCN Red List
Wild population: Unknown, in decline.
Captive Population: Unknown

The general objectives are: 1) To determine which Sphysna species are related to recreational fisheries in the Canary Islands. 2) Increase basic scientific knowledge for a more effective local management of the population. 3) Describe the population structure. 4) Estimate the minimum population size and relative abundance. 5) Raise awareness about its conservation and sustainable use.

The use of recreational fishing boats as platforms will allow a large number of individuals to be sampled, minimizing, in turn, the high costs of marine research projects in terms of logistics. The capture, tagging and recapture technique will serve as an awareness tool for the crews of recreational fishing boats, emphasizing the importance of scientific research for the conservation of a living resource, and the need to conserve shark populations so that sustainable use of these animals can be made.

The project team will go with commercial recreational fishing operators to conduct periodic tagging campaigns for Sphyrna sp. on the islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Data collection includes: total length and weight, sex, dermal tissue samples, temperature, label code, and photographs of distinctive marks.
Capture, handling and processing times will be minimized to reduce harm to individuals and produce as little stress as possible. When the sampling is complete, the animals will always be returned to the sea with care.

Canary Islands

Colaborador local: ElasmoCan

Funding since 2016: 35,567$
Hammerhead shark

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