Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

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European Elasmobranch Association – Annual Meeting 2015 in Peniche, Portugal

By Dorien Schröder,

EEA 2015, Samuel Gruber at the Bimini Field Station holds a tagged shark

EEEA 2015, Samuel Gruber at the Bimini Field Station holds a tagged shark”

The conference started off with Dr. Samuel Gruber talking about his amazing career in shark research, although he was talented enough to become a professional ballet dancer or a pilot! He spoke about how getting malignant lymphoma literally made him ‘run for his life’ in his career, producing papers about shark senses, bioenergetics and eventually opening the Bimini Shark Lab. The Bimini Shark Lab has been doing some amazing research over the past 25 years, some of which was presented at the conference. Doc Gruber also showed some beautiful footage that was taken there, including of him as a midwife for a lemon shark and freediving with a hammerhead, the shark he was originally fearing and got him into shark research – and that he got to love.

From the Bimini Shark Lab, Liam Dickson presented a research showing similar behaviour of sharks in semi-captivity compared to the wild. Robert Bullock used accelerometers to show the small sharks rest in the mangroves during high tide.



The conference also had a lot of researchers coming in from the Azores, with Jorge Fontes finding kite fin and six gill sharks responded quickly to short term protection of deep sea communities. Pedro Afonso, Frederic Vandeperre and Ana Filipa Sobral presenting on the presence of whale sharks, blue sharks and devil rays. They all found mainly adult individuals that seek out the seamounts during the summer months with warmer waters. This is interesting in connection with the research Rui Coelho presented where smaller blue sharks can be found in the higher latitudes in both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Other research from Portugal was presented by Ana Couto, who found basking sharks in the south, particularly during periods of low sea surface temperature, low chlorophyll and about one month after upwelling. Rui Rosa found the chlorophyll and upwelling to be important too for the presence of the smooth hammerhead, although this species prefers a high sea surface temperature.
A few interesting finds were presented at the conference too, with Pablo Garcia Salinas showing angular rough sharks feeding on eggcases, Alba Martin-Lázaro finding hermaphroditism in velvet belly lantern shark, Eva Meyers tagging angelsharks underwater and Simone Strandvad building a trawl simulator to test stress response in small-spotted catsharks.


Irene Kingma introduced the Save Our Sharks project, for which the Dutch Shark Society is involved in social media support, images and video

Irene Kingma introduced the Save Our Sharks project, for which the Dutch Shark Society is responsible for social media support, images and video

The last day was almost entirely devoted to conservation with talks on science-based management by Sarah Fowler and Ali Hood. Simon Dedman and Daniela Rosa presented their research using computer modelling to calculated preferred habitat and growth respectively. Using computer models can be especially important in the protection of species we know very little about. Irene Kingma presented the new Save Our Sharks Project in the Dutch Caribbean.
Too much interesting research was presented during the conference to write down, hopefully it will help us protect sharks and rays and educate people on the importance of their conservation.

Dutch Shark Society sincerely thanks APECE, Joao Correia and his team for the orgamisation and hospitality!!



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