Elasmobranchs of the Galapagos Marine Reserve
Alex R. Hearn, David Acuña, James T. Ketchum, Cesar Peñaherrera, Jonathan Green, Andrea Marshall, Michel Guerrero and George Shillinger
In book: Denkinger and L. Vinueza (eds.), The Galapagos Marine Reserve, Social and Ecological Interactions in the Galapagos Islands, Springer International Publishing, 2014, pp. 23-59.
The Galapagos Marine Reserve is home to at least 50 species of sharks and rays. Although these species are protected in the marine reserve, they are vulnerable to industrial fishing outside the protected waters, to unintentional bycatch by local fishers inside the reserve, and to illegal fishing. Our knowledge of shark ecology in Galapagos has increased dramatically in the last decade, due to the creation of an interinstitutional research program, which focuses on the spatial ecology of hammerhead and whale sharks. Hammerheads are resident at restricted locations where they school during the day and disperse to sea most nights. Alternatively, mostly large, pregnant female whale sharks visit the northern islands from June through November for only a few days, as part of a large-scale migration. Longline fishing studies have shed light on the distribution of sharks and their vulnerability to this fishing method. A juvenile shark monitoring program has been created. Scientists have attempted to model changes in shark populations since the creation of the marine reserve. A diver-based census of sharks has been implemented at key sites. The establishment of a regional network, MigraMar, has enabled us to determine connectivity of sharks and mantas between Galapagos and other areas.