Sharks of the Maldives: introduction to field based research and monitoring techniques
Sharks are elasmobranchs, fish with skeletons made from cartilage, and with five to seven gill-slits to filter oxygen from the water. They can be found in both shallow waters basins, reefs, and the pelagic zones throughout the world’s oceans, with some migrating vast distances to breed and feed. Some species are solitary, while others hang out in groups of varying degrees or aggregate for reproductive purposes.
Despite what is often portrayed, sharks may not be a significant threat to us, but we are to them. Humans are responsible for drastic declines in shark populations. It is estimated that around 100 million sharks are killed each year, mostly by overfishing to supply demand for shark-based products, but also as a result of bycatch, a new threat to the species. Rising water temperatures and coastal development are also contributing to shrinking populations by destroying the mangroves and coral reefs that sharks use for breeding, hunting, and protecting young shark pups.
Furthermore, the survival of many coastal human communities largely depends on fish populations controlled by the presence of sharks, both important for fishing and tourism activities. Therefore, the study and description of shark communities that inhabit reefs and coastal zones can provide helpful information for the management of all human activities involving the sea, from fishing to tourism. The skills acquired in the field of shark biology and ecology can therefore be used both in the sectors related to the protection and conservation of ecosystems, in fisheries management and tourism, as well as in academia.
Now it is the time to act and support the conservation of sharks.
This 8 days-workshop will take place from 9 to 16 December 2023 with a diving cruise in the central atolls of the Maldives.
At the end of this theoretical-practical course the participants will acquire notions to:
- Identify sharks and their associated fauna
- Use specialized recognition software to catalog and database sharks
- Identify the common behaviours of sharks in their natural habitat and understand shark handling
- Use diver survey and photogrammetry techniques to survey sharks
- Design and carry out visual census operations, for the study and monitoring of sharks
- Learn the use citizen science to collect data
- Conduct terrestrial and aerial census of sharks using a drone or vantage points
- Use baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) to monitor shark abundance and composition.
The program includes daily theoretical lectures, practical sessions on shark data collection and analysis, on-hands activities, and field activities through scuba diving in different reefs of the Maldivian archipelago.
In particular, 2 dives per day are scheduled (a third dive could be scheduled on some days). An Advanced dive licence and a minimum of 30 logged dives are required. The workshop will be conducted in English.
|9-16 Dec 2023