Palau is one of the countries worldwide with an abundant number of reef sharks, according to recent research of 381 reefs in 58 nations looking into the conservation status of reef sharks globally.
The study conducted by the GlobalFinPrint Study showed in other reefs in some of the nations in the world “ no sharks on almost 20% of the sites they visited,” which makes the sharks “functionally extinct” on many reefs.
Sharks numbers were highest in countries in the Pacific including Palau, Solomon Islands, Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Kiribati among others.
While shark numbers are lowest in nations or territories including Guam, Qatar, the Dominican Republic, continental Colombia, Sri Lanka, citing poor governance and extreme overfishing.”
Scientists say that sharks play a crucial role in the ocean’s ecosystem and keeping the reefs healthy, but unsustainable fishing are threats to the population
“You can’t have a healthy planet if you don’t have healthy oceans. And, we are learning that sharks can play a role in having healthy ocean ecosystems,” lead investigator of the Global FinPrint project, Florida International University’s Drs. Mike Heithaus said in a press statement by Vulcan Inc. who launched the GlobalFinPrint project initiative.
Vulcan is Microsoft’s co-founder, Palau Allen’s charity organization.
The study published in the scientific journal, Nature, also showed that shark numbers are high in places where marine or shark sanctuaries have been created.
Last year, Palau created its marine sanctuary covering an area as big as France.
Prior to the Palau national marine sanctuary, Palau has also declared the nation as shark sanctuary where most divers visit to see the healthy population of sharks.
The study is said to be the “world’s first-ever benchmark status on reef shark,” made possible through the work over 120 researchers, including one from Palau.
In order to conduct the study, underwater cameras with baits attached were deployed in the reefs.
After surveying the reefs for nearly five years, the underwater camera captured more than 15,000 hours of footage in 58 territories and countries.
Scientists said that the study gives them hope to reverse the decline of the population.
The study said a strong fisheries management action can be a robust conservation model to save the sharks.
“As grim as the report is, scientists identified three clear paths all nations need to take to protect reef sharks. From restricting certain gear types and setting catch limits to national-scale bans on catches and trade,” the press statement added.