By: L.N. Reklai
March 6, 2017 (Koror, Palau) The Shark Week, a shark awareness event sponsored by Fish N’Fins ended in a snappy gala on Monday night at the Barracuda Restaurant. The event was attended by 30 participants from all around the world as well as local officials and dignitaries. The 30 overseas participants came from many countries including UK, Europe, North America and even Bahrain.
“This is the 15th year anniversary of the event and it was very successful,” stated Tova Bornovski of Fish N’Fins. “It is an awareness event which puts Palau on the map as Shark Ambassador. All the participants after a week, become not only shark ambassadors but also Palau ambassadors to the world, bringing the information and experience back with them,” added Tova.
One of the highlights of the event is to hear and see presentations from research that has been conducted on sharks in Palau over the last 15 years. One such highlight was the result of the research by Micronesia Shark Foundation, Fish N’Fins and Australia Institute of Marine Science which showed that remote areas of Palau such as South Islands were showing less shark population than areas closer to populated centers such as Koror and Babeldaob.
According to Ms. Bornovski, five scientific papers have been published as result of such collaboration.
“Most of the research that Micronesia Shark Foundation (MSF) and ourselves have done, have been near shore. Exciting news is that a new research project has been approved with Stanford University and MSF to conduct study on the status of pelagic sharks, sharks outside the reef,” reported Tova.
“We do many things to collect as much data on sharks as possible including using a survey form that I developed for our dive guides to count the number of sharks at various dive sites every time they go out. We also have used BRUV (baited remote underwater video) about 5 miles offshore as well as collecting DNA from sharks that are caught on the illegal fishing boats,” she added.
The purpose of this program is to educate, collect data on sharks and conduct research on sharks.
“We conduct shark education programs in schools and have published shark children’s books with young kids contributing to the book,” said Tova.
According to Ms. Bornovski, the reports they published are provided copies to the national government bodies such as the Bureau of Marine Resource.
The wealth of information collected over the past 15 years on sharks can be one of the tools used to measure the effectiveness of the Palau Marine Sanctuary, particularly providing a baseline data to start with and gauge effectiveness of program in years to come. [/restrict]