27 Apr 2012:
Pacific Shark Survey Shows
90 Percent Decline Near Human Populatons
A comprehensive census of Pacific reef shark populations has found that shark abundance has plummeted by roughly 90 percent
in waters located near islands inhabited by humans. Using underwater surveys
conducted by divers across 46 U.S. Pacific islands and atolls, researchers found that shark numbers near human populations — including on the main Hawaiian Islands and the Mariana Archipelago — were consistently depressed, regardless of location or ocean conditions, compared with pristine reef areas located farther away from humans. In fact, the researchers estimated that shark populations are less than 10 percent of historically peak numbers in these areas, said Marc Nadon, a scientist at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the study, published in the journal Conservation Biology
. “In short, people and sharks don’t mix,” he said. Researchers say the data helps quantify how human activities — including overfishing and the controversial practice of shark-finning — are decimating shark numbers. The study was conducted as part of NOAA’s Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program.