Chasing Ghosts   Leave a comment

A few years ago Rosangela Lessa wrote a paper on the occurrence of the Daggernose Shark in northern Brazil. In the paper she describes that the crazy looking daggernose makes up about a quarter of the local catch. To my knowledge there are no images of Daggernose Sharks in the wild so I emailed Rosangela to get more information. I was hoping that she could help me get on a boat that was fishing for sharks.

Sadly she responded with bad news. In the few years since she wrote the paper, the local population of Daggernose Sharks had been wiped out. She suggested that I try Trinidad but offered little hope of success. The story is beginning to sound like a broken record. ‘You should have been here ten years ago’ is becoming all too familiar.

Where next to look for unusual sharks? I am not convinced that there is any future for inshore species like the Daggernose. Unless a shark species inhabits depths that are not yet being exploited, it is vulnerable to over fishing. But, vulnerable is too subtle a word. There has never been a commercially sustainable fishery in recent history. Shark fisheries only last a decade or so until a catastrophic collapse takes place and the fishermen move on to richer pastures. To say that sharks are vulnerable is like saying that nuclear war could be a bit dangerous. It has to stop.

There is no longer any rational quota system that makes sense for sharks. A complete ban on shark fishing worldwide is the only answer.

In the mean time I will do my best to document the species that are still accessible. I will start contacting fisheries experts in Trinidad to see if any Daggernose Sharks remain there. The IUCN WWF, and many NGOs recently used my images to publicize the plight of the Spiny Dogfish. I wholeheartedly believe that in order to promote change we need compelling images to better understand what we are trying to save.

I’ll keep doing my bit. Make sure you are doing yours: Increase public awareness, boycott restaurants that sell shark fins. Encourage a new global attitude towards sharks.

 

For the sharks,

Andy Murch

 

Andy Murch is the staff photographer at Shark Diver Magazine and the creator of the Elasmodiver Shark and Ray Field Guide which contains Shark Pictures from around the world.

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Posted May 25, 2007 by Andy Murch in Environment, Nature, Photography, Sharks

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