When people hear about the word ‘sharks’, they automatically think of white sharks, hammerheads, blue sharks, or whale sharks. These majestic large sharks represent a very small proportion of the sharks present in the world. More than 520+ species of sharks have been discovered and many more are still waiting to be identified. If you add the rays, skates, and chimaeras, around 1400+ species of elasmobranchs have been discovered. Unfortunately, a recent study has suggested that 25% of these species are under threat of extinction. Why? Many species of sharks are heavily fished in regions where fishing regulations are poorly managed. Endemic species that were found in certain areas, decades ago are rare now.
Here is a list of the top families that the study has determined to be the most threatened:
(Figure 6B from Dulvy et al 2014)
Dr. David Ebert, Director of the PSRC presented his plenary talk on Lost Sharks in Sharks International in Durban, South Africa in 2014. He discussed the importance of acquiring basic life history information as well as using genetics as a resource tool for identifying these rare species.
Here is a link to his plenary talk.
Genetics are a great tool, but you need to know morphology. You need to know what it looks like.
Dr. David Ebert, June 2, 2014.
Hence, this page is dedicated to these rare and endemic species and encourages prospective students to focus on these ‘Lost sharks’ in the hopes that they will be studied and be brought into light before they’ve disappeared forever. Current PSRC students have side projects or theses dedicated to these data deficient elasmobranchs. Click on the pictures below to learn more about what our students are contributing to the ‘Lost Sharks’ project.