Yesterday I led a team of eight scientists and students from UNC, USFQ and the Galapagos Science Center that documented the catch aboard a vessel caught illegally long lining in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. We worked alongside a great team from the Galapagos National Park and were also assisted by the Ecuadorian Coast Guard. We identified, sexed, and measured every individual (there turned out to be 379 sharks, not 357 as reported earlier). We also took samples for genetic and demographic analysis (very little is known about the biology of some of these species). It took 10 hours and was grueling and very dangerous work. (There were lots of knives, hooks, and other sharp objects around, the sharks are very heavy and the deck of the ship was extremely slippery.) Beyond that, it was one of the most depressing and intense days of my life. It felt like we were unearthing a mass grave in a war zone. The bodies of the sharks were literally coming out of a dark hold beneath the deck as if they were being unearthed. We are all physically and emotionally toast today, so I thought I should start describing it all with a slide show (note, this is graphic and disturbing). I will post a lot more detail soon, including information on the broader context of shark fishing here and elsewhere.
[cincopa AIGAFpa8SPNe]Photos can be used for non-commerical purposes with credit (John Bruno). Email me if you need a higher quality image.