Congratulations to former students and interns Viktoria Kuehn (left) and Karen Vu for being awarded NOAA’s prestigious Sea Grant fellowships. Both of our former masters students secured great positions: Karen with the California Coastal Commission and Viktoria with the Bay Conservation Development Commission. Both have been long term Shark Stewards volunteers helping with our Farallon Island Sanctuary trips, the Aquatic Park mapping and ecological assessment, and with our education events. We are grateful and so proud of you two!
Sharks in the News
Our friend Dr Mark Meekan of the Australia Institute of Marine Science just published a paper aging whale sharks using radioisotopes. Besides contaminating the South Pacific, it appears that the Pacific nuclear tests did something useful. The researchers measured C-14 isotopes in vertebrae collected from the former Pakistan whale shark fishery and established that the growth rings in the cartilage of sharks are annual like a tree ring, and not variable or the shorter range previously believed. This is the first accurate dating of whale sharks and indicates they can live well over 50 years.
It also underscores the vulnerability of these slow growing, long-lived animals, and increasingly endangered species. Whale shark dive tourism has provided economic benefits to local economies like Holbox Mexico and Cebu, Philippines. Dr. Meekan’s lab has also conducted socio-economic studies showing that the value of dive tourism far exceeds shark fishing, including where we work in Malaysia, and we hope soon, in Timor Leste.
New Report Predicts Impacts of Marine Megafauna Extinctions
A paper published in Science Advances examined threats to marine megafauna at risk, and with given trends predicts the ecological consequences of species loss. The study predicts that extinction of threatened marine megafauna would lead to huge loss in functional diversity in the oceans. If current trajectories are maintained, in the next 100 years we could lose, on average, 18% of marine megafauna species, which will translate in the loss of 11% of the extent of ecological functions. The most dire predictions is 40% extinction with 48% loss of ecological functions. Forty percent of species are most at risk, and sharks including whale shark and white sharks, are at the greatest risk of extinction. These species serve key roles in ecosystems, including the consumption of large amounts of biomass, transporting nutrients across habitats, connecting ocean ecosystems, and physically modifying habitats. To prevent the collapse of ocean ecosystems, we must save sharks.
In these challenging times we at Shark Stewards wish everyone good health and our support. One month into sheltering, our work continues in different ways. Outreach, schools and events are a big part of our mission and we are sad we cant meet the kids and community we love. To keep safe, we have canceled all events into June including our kayak trips and beach clean ups: yet we are not depressed or disappearing from the fray to save sharks from extinction. All classes and lectures have also been canceled- but we adapted and are now hosting a fun Live Like a Shark online series each Friday. Responding to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, we painted these cotton shark masks when we go outside. For a $20 donation, you can get a Live Like a Shark cloth face mask here! Staying healthy, supporting the health of our community, and keeping the ocean healthy is our priority. Together, we can take action for our health and ocean health while hunkered down. Join us!
Live Like a Shark
Swim in a Shiver, but keep your distance Stay connected but try not to bite each other Wash your fins frequently Keep smiling to keep breathing
Fin Fridays on Shark Stewards Facebook Live at noon with slides, stories and films on sharks and ocean health.
Earth Week Backyard Biodiversity Bioblitz 2020! Join us using the free iNaturalist App. Observe, record plants and animals on your smart phone and add to the Earthweek Backyard Bioblitz project. We have over 270 observations and 160 species since Sunday. Help us reach 1000 species, wherever you live! Follow as we add observations from bumblebees to whales on Instagram.
April 24 and Fridays at noon. Join Shark Stewards for our Facebook live Ocean Action series with talks and film on sharks and adventure.This week we will continue with episode 3 What is a Shark, Threats and Solutions. Ask your questions in comments. Take the shark quiz and nominate a shark- and it might just be featured in the Shark Science for kids book we are writing for Callisto Media. Watch for the book this Sharktober!
With your support, we keep sharks swimming and the ocean healthy. Shark Stewards is a 4 star Charity Navigator, Platinum Guidestar ranked charity and a proud project of the Earth Island Institute.