Hammer-head shark. (Photo: Ministerio del Ambiente)
Ecuador and Costa Rica scientific expedition to study marine migratory species route
Wednesday, April 04, 2018, 22:20 (GMT + 9)
An unprecedented scientific expedition, from the Galapagos Islands to Isla del Coco, aims to identify migratory marine species that use this route and quantify their distribution, abundance and the diversity of their predators.
According to Zdenka Piskulich of the PACIFIC Foundation, the studies that will be carried out aim to highlight the importance of implementing transboundary conservation efforts in this priority marine corridor for highly migratory species.
The expedition began on April 2 on the island of Baltra, Ecuador, and includes sites such as Darwin Island in the National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve. It will end near Isla del Coco, Costa Rica, 10 days later.
"We want to quantify the distribution, abundance and diversity of the existing species in the transboundary marine corridor, using pelagic stations (that live in remote areas off the coast), Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs); monitor marine mammals and seabirds through observation, investigating the effect of environmental factors such as temperature, depth and the presence of seamounts on the distribution and abundance of these species along this marine corridor," explained Piskulich.
Baited remote underwater pelagic video stations are an effective tool to monitor sharks and other large predators throughout Galapagos-Cocos.
The assessment of the status of shark and other pelagic stocks is particularly important, given the rapid pace at which some species are declining. Large sharks are capable of structuring marine food chains, regulating prey populations and/or modifying their behavior. For this reason, the removal of sharks from the oceans could have important ecological consequences, such as the loss of biodiversity, the function and the health of the ecosystem.
PACIFIC, the Directorate of Galapagos National Park and Isla del Coco National Park, with the funding of the Waitt Foundation, the Shark Conservation Fund and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, will carry out this expedition with the participation of MigraMar and the University's CIMAR from Costa Rica.
"For the first time there will be a scientific expedition for conservation purposes, crossing this trans-border marine corridor that connects, in the Pacific Ocean of Ecuador and Costa Rica, the National Park, Galapagos Marine Reserve and Isla del Coco National Park, sites declared by UNESCO as a Natural Heritage of Humanity," said Mario Coto Hidalgo, executive director of the National System of Conservation Areas of Costa Rica.
Jorge Carrión, director of Galapagos National Park, said that "this transboundary marine corridor, of approximately 120 thousand square kilometres, is key to the conservation of emblematic highly migratory species such as sharks, whales, rays and sea turtles. We seek to strengthen research and control actions and surveillance of the protected areas of the two countries."