Researchers record the path of a hammerhead shark from Galapagos to Isla del Coco in Costa Rica

Scientists monitored the path of the female hammerhead shark, Cassiopeia, from the Galapagos to Costa Rica. The animal was tagged in the Archipelago in February 2021. Photo: Courtesy MAAE

After two weeks of travel, traveling at a speed of 50 km per day, Cassiopeia reached Isla del Coco. The migration of this hammerhead shark from Galapagos to Costa Rica was recorded almost in real time.

The information was released this Wednesday, April 14, 2021 by the Ministry of the Environment and Water of Ecuador. According to this State Department, this is the first time that this migration has been documented in near real time.

Although previous studies have documented the inter-island movements of the hammerhead shark using acoustic markings , “these do not reveal the precise routes that the animals follow to get from one place to another,” says the MAAE statement .

On this occasion, the scientists were able to document the movements of a female hammerhead shark. The specimen was tagged with a satellite transmitter in February 2021 during a scientific expedition that took place on Darwin Island. This area, which is to the north of the Archipelago, is a place of seasonal aggregation of the species.

The transmitter allowed the researchers to follow the hammerhead shark throughout its journey. The device also helped specialists to determine the exact season in which the migratory process occurs.

The data collected by the technological tool shows that Cassiopeia arrived at Isla del Coco, in Costa Rica, two weeks after leaving the Galapagos Islands . The animal traveled the ocean at a speed of approximately 50 km per day.

Another important aspect of this research is that the female hammerhead shark is pregnant . Therefore, the researchers are attentive to the journey that will continue to the continental coasts to give birth to their young within the mangrove bays.

For Pelayo Salinas de León, principal investigator at the Charles Darwin Foundation, a better understanding of the annual reproductive migrations of female hammerhead sharks is vital to drive a conservation approach in the region. This is necessary to reverse the decline in the population of this species that inhabits the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

Darwin Island, which is north of the Archipelago, is a seasonal aggregation site for the hammerhead shark. Photo: Courtesy MAAE

Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park, says that these investigations are important to promote the adoption of regional policies that protect these routes. The route between Isla del Coco and Galapagos works as a marine corridor used by species considered critically endangered, such as the hammerhead shark .

This research is part of the shark ecology project of the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Center and the Guy Harvey Research Institute of Nova Southeastern University (USA).

In clarification, Alex Hearn, a researcher at the San Francisco de Quito University and president of MigraMar, explains that this is not the first time that a hammerhead shark has migrated from Galapagos to Isla del Coco. According to Hearn, researchers from the MigraMar network have tracked the movements of migratory marine species through acoustic and satellite marking in near real time for more than 15 years.

The first evidence of connectivity with hammerhead sharks, Hearn says, was obtained in 2006 and since then, other cases have been documented that reveal the migratory routes of this species, as well as other sharks and sea turtles. This information has served as the basis for the concept of a protected migration route linking the two marine areas.

Read the original coverage from El Comercio at

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One thought on “Researchers record the path of a hammerhead shark from Galapagos to Isla del Coco in Costa Rica

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