Scientists Discover Hammerhead Shark Nursery In Ecuador's Galapagos

On Saturday, the Ecuadoran national park announced that a team of researchers had discovered a nursery of endangered hammerheads off Isabela Island in Ecuador's Galapagos archipelago.

Scientists Discover Hammerhead Shark Nursery In Ecuador's Galapagos
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • On Saturday, the Ecuadoran national park announced that a team of researchers had discovered a nursery of endangered hammerheads off Isabela Island in Ecuador's Galapagos archipelago.
  • The researchers, who had previously identified two more locations with similar characteristics on nearby islands as part of the park's Shark Monitoring Program, will return to the nurseries every month to keep track of the young shark population and map their migration routes.
  • Eduardo Espinoza, a ranger at the Galapagos National Park, believes that finding a third natural breeding site could help protect the critically endangered and iconic shark species from the threat of extinction
  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the scalloped hammerhead shark is critically endangered due to overfishing and illegal capture. It is largely threatened by commercial fishing for its meat, liver oil, skin, cartilage, jaws, and fins — used to make shark fin soup.
  • The Ecuadoran national park hopes the discovery will inspire the IUCN to include the hammerhead shark nurseries in its list of Important Shark and Ray Areas and help reverse their loss.
  • The Galapagos Islands is home to many species not found anywhere else on the planet, such as giant tortoises, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, and the Galapagos penguin — the only penguin species found in the Northern Hemisphere.

Sources: CTV, La Prensa Latina, Reuters, IUCN Red List, Wio, and DW.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Fortune. The Galapagos has become a genetic bank to reseed extinct marine ecosystems. Identifying and protecting the habitats of juvenile sharks matters because young sharks are often the most vulnerable, and their survival is vital to the future of their species. Nonetheless, with the rate at which predators catch and kill the sharks, the nurseries must be protected when they are discovered. It's simple: protecting the sharks protects the ocean and protecting the ocean protects the planet.
  • Narrative B, as provided by The Conversation. Any effort to conserve and preserve the hammerhead shark nurseries must support small-scale fishers' legitimate rights and welfare. Strict regulations protecting endangered sharks could negatively impact the livelihoods of locals — who often catch the species unintentionally — by reducing their income and eliminating a key source of food. Fishery-led conservation, which could include a fair compensation scheme, can have a meaningful effect on fisher behaviour and marine conservation globally.

Predictions