Five species of sharks are at risk due to the presence of foreign fleets in Galapagos

Five species of sharks are the most threatened by the fishing fleets that occupy the Exclusive Economic Zone. Photo: File / THE TRADE

July 29, 2020 4:59 PM
By Isabel Alarcon

Ecuadorian waters, especially the Galapagos area, concentrate a great biodiversity of marine species that could be threatened by the presence of foreign vessels outside the Exclusive Economic Zone. To protect these resources, this Monday, July 27, 2020, President Lenín Moreno announced the creation of a protection strategy for the Galapagos Islands and their marine resources.

Among the animals most threatened by this fleet are five species of sharks, which may be in contact with vessels during their migratory movements. Alex Hearn, professor at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, explains that the impacts on marine species are different depending on the type of fleets. Possibly the most threatened species are hammerhead, silky, tresher, blue and whale sharks.

Hammerhead shark

The hammerhead shark is a critically endangered species. Photo: Kris Mikael Krister / Wikicommons

The Sphyrna lewini, known as the common hammerhead shark or red horn shark, passed in 2019 from the species category ‘Endangered’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ of extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature raised the degree of threat of this animal in the last update of the Red List.

This species reaches sexual maturity at age 13, lives between 30 and 35 years and has between 15 and 30 young. According to Hearn, this makes it a species more vulnerable to threats caused by humans.

Whale shark

The whale shark is classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN red list. Photo: Pxfuel.

The Rhincodon typus known as the whale shark is one of those that could have the most contact with international fleets due to its migratory route to the continent. Despite being the largest fish in the world, its reproduction is still a mystery. It is believed that it reaches sexual maturity by reaching a body size of thirty feet.

In 1996, a female was captured in Taiwan with 304 embryos inside him. They are elusive animals and are classified by the IUCN as ‘Vulnerable’.

Silky shark

The silky shark is a species that is affected by bycatch. Photo: File / EL COMERCIO.

For Hearn, the situation of silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) is one of the most worrying, since they are common in bycatch. Currently there are not many studies of this species in the country.

Based on markings made in Galapagos, it is known that they can travel long distances. It is believed to have lost more than 50% of its populations in recent years.

Blue shark

The blue shark is distributed in all the oceans and seas of the world. Photo: Wikicommons.

The blue shark (Prionace glauca) is one of the species that is most landed on the Ecuadorian coast. This fish can travel over 9,000 km. This species is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN.

It is estimated that between 10 and 20 million blue sharks die in the world due to bycatch.

Thresher Sharks

Two species of thresher shark live in the Galapagos. Photo: Wikicommons.

As for the thresher shark, two species of this type can be found in the Galapagos, the pelagic thresher shark and the big eye thresher shark. Both are listed in CITES and are considered ‘Vulnerable’.

Their abundance in the area is not yet known and both species were found inside the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 in 2017.

This content has been originally published by Diario EL COMERCIO at the following address:

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021


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