Healthy reefs have more sharks

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Healthy reefs have more sharks

October 30, 2014 - 19:15
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Sharks in no-fishing zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park found to be more abundant when the coral is healthy.

The authors hope that this study emphasizes how important the coral reef health is for the future of shark populations

The relative abundance of sharks was significantly higher in non-fished sites

The present study examined shark distribution patterns, species-habitat associations, and marine reserve use with baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) along the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) over a ten year period.

Overall, researchers recorded 21 different shark species. The relative abundance of sharks was significantly higher in non-fished sites in the GBR Marine Park no-fishing zones relative to fished sites.

However, their findings also showed that hard coral cover had a large effect on the abundance of reef-associates shark species, indicating that the success of marine reserves for sharks, particularly reef-associated species, may depend on coral reef health.

Our results suggest that healthy reefs make good shark habitat, and may be just as important for improving shark numbers as protecting sharks from fishing

Hard coral cover had a large effect on the abundance of reef-associated shark species, indicating that coral reef health may be important for the success of marine protected areas. Therefore, understanding shark distribution patterns, species-habitat associations, and the drivers responsible for those patterns is essential for developing sound management and conservation approaches.

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