LAMAVE supports Elasmobranch Research in Tubbataha

Nineteen species of elasmobranchs – sharks and rays – have been observed in the waters of the Tubbataha Reefs.  Thirteen of these are sharks.  It is one of the sites with the highest biodiversity of elasmobranchs in the region.

Most elasmobranchs grow very slowly, mature late, produce very few young, have high natural survivorship, and a long life.  These species are dependent on a stable environment.

‘Data show a consistent history of rapid stock collapses.  The elasmobranchs, and particularly those sharks which are top marine predators feeding on weak and less fit individuals of other fish species, are considered to be a key factor in the health and maintenance of the marine food webs on which all fisheries ultimately depend.  Permanently damaging shark and ray populations is likely to have serious and unexpected negative consequences for commercial and subsistence yields of other important fish stocks.’  IUCN Shark Specialist Group (2002).

To generate further understanding of elasmobranchs in Tubbataha, the Large Marine Vertebrates Project Philippines (LAMAVE) will conduct an assessment of its diversity, abundance and migration patterns.  Results of the study will help articulate conservation strategies for elasmobranchs in Tubbataha.

LAMAVE, an NGO which aims to promote conservation through scientific research and education, will likewise conduct a shark identification and data collection training for diving professionals, park staff and partners on 24 – 25 February 2015.  Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., will provide funding for the training.

The study will be done in collaboration with the Shark Foundation, The Marine Megafauna Foundation, the University of Victoria, Canada, and TMO.