Sharks thrive in marine reserves

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Sharks thrive in marine reserves

July 23, 2013 - 12:25

Compared with waters where fishing is allowed, there are up to four times as many reef sharks in a protected zone, a new study shows

(File photo) Reef shark

Namena Reserve, a 60 square kilometers (23-square-mile) reserve was designated in 1997 off the southern coast of Vanua Levu, Fiji's second largest island. For three weeks in July 2009, researchers from University of Western Australia used novel stereo video technology to survey sharks at eight sites within Namena and eight sites outside the reserve.

Hour-long clips from all 16 locations captured images of five different species: grey reef sharks, whitetips, blacktips, silvertips and zebra sharks.

By analyzing this footage, researchers found that shark abundance and biomass in the protected zone was twice as great at shallow sites and four times as great at deep sites, compared to adjacent areas where fishing was allowed. Shark populations had been indeed benefiting from "no-take" protections that keep their food supply steady.

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