Welcome to Shark Tales!
This is a blog dedicated to sharing the science that underpins the conservation of Elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays) across the globe.
Elasmobranchs are some of the most fascinating creatures of the underwater world. Currently, there are at least 1,118 extant species of sharks, skates, and rays found throughout all corners of the globe: from depths of up to 4,000m in the deep sea and the icy waters of the Arctic, to shallower habitats in estuaries and freshwater lakes. Indeed, this group of cartilaginous fish can be found in just about every aquatic ecosystem on the planet.
They come in all shapes and sizes too… Dwarf Lanternsharks can be found as small as your palm and Whale Sharks grow to bigger than a school bus! Despite this, they do share some common biological features: elasmobranchs belong to a class of cartilaginous fish (called the Chondrichthyans), meaning their skeletons are made out of cartilage and not bone like humans and other mammals. They also have several rows of replaceable teeth, 5-7 gill slits and many species even have the ability to detect their prey’s heartbeat using electrical sensing. In fact, most elasmobranchs are top predators- meaning they play a vital role in maintaining ecosystem balance.
Unfortunately, elasmobranchs are a group at high risk of extinction; due to habitat destruction, overfishing, and being caught as bycatch, an estimated 25% of species are thought to be threatened worldwide. The impact of elasmobranch decline is poorly understood, but given their important roles in aquatic ecosystems, the consequences are likely to be far-reaching.
Now, more than ever science plays a crucial role in protecting these beautiful creatures.