Shark Awareness Day: Eye of the Tiger – Conducting Landing Surveys in Sri Lanka

For Shark Awareness Day 2019 we have been to talking to some of our elasmobranch (that’s sharks, skates and rays) researchers! Here, University of Exeter PhD student Claire Collins tells us about her research in Sri Lanka working to understand the shark fishery there so we can better manage them.

Tiger shark awaiting sale by shark traders in the early morning

Words by Claire Collins, University of Exeter PhD student.

I am 2nd year PhD student studying the socio-economic context of pelagic fisheries in Sri Lanka and India, specifically distant water vessels that target sharks (along with other large pelagics). As part of my research I will study the socio-economic value chains associated with sharks, the spatial movements of vessels and the perceptions of fishers with regards to national and international conservation regulations. To do this I will use a variety of methods including landing surveys, focus groups, household surveys and observational data. It is hoped that at the end of the project we can understand more about what motivates fishers to target sharks in distant water areas and how policy and management can be improved to benefit fishers’ livelihoods and shark populations.

Sharks are threatened globally by both targeted fisheries and through accidental capture in other large pelagic fisheries. Understanding the impact of anthropogenic activities is important and relies on accurate landings and discards data. However, for many fisheries globally the status of sharks as bycatch, and the difficulties in identifying them to a species-level means that we don’t have a clear idea of levels of fishing. The Indian Ocean has been identified as an area where populations of sharks are particularly poorly understood. As part of my PhD project I will be focusing on collecting data on landings and discards of sharks, as well as fishers perceptions of their livelihoods as shark fishers and how management and regulations effects them. One way to collect this data is through landing surveys in markets. These surveys are dual purpose for us, as we are able to collect landings data (including information on price and who is buying them) and we also get to speak to people whose job it is to understand shark movements and populations; the fishers!

Fishers with sharks caught incidentally during fishing for large pelagics such as Tuna and Billfish

Market surveys are not for the faint-hearted as they are frantic, start incredibly early (3AM at one of our sites) and the resulting smell means researchers are often unsuitable for travelling on public transport/sitting in cafes afterwards! Upon arriving at the markets researchers familiarise themselves with fishers and traders and look out for the first landings of the day. In order to understand value chains associated with sharks the team collect weight and price information for each species of shark landed that day, along with the details of which individuals are selling and buying them. Sales are conducted quickly and sharks often disappear seconds after being offloaded, therefore researchers need to be quick and rely on their good relationships with traders and buyers. Within Sri Lanka shark fisheries are considered zero wastage, therefore the team has to collect price and weight data for the sales of meat, fins, liver, teeth/jaws and skin as well as whole sharks.

Meat and fins are separated for sale on the market side.

Our research team also conduct questionnaires with fishers that are landing to the markets on the subject of their fishing behaviours, attitudes towards sharks and the economics of their recent trip. These surveys are conducted by researchers with the captains of the vessels, often in the wheel-house, and tablets are used to help speed up recording and analysis. By combining data from both types of surveys, as well as interviews with other individuals such as shark traders, we can map out socio-economic reliance on shark resources. This will help us to understand likely impacts of changes in management and policy interventions on a national and international level. It could also offer policy-makers an insight into how fishers see their industry and livelihoods and what is important to them for the future.

Fishers are regularly gone for trips of over 2 months

All images taken by the author. This work is supported by the Bertarelli Foundation as part of the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science and is conducted in partnership with the Zoological Society of London.

You can follow Claire on Twitter.

 

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, biological,  medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

Happy #SeaTurtleWeek! Check out these turtle-y awesome Sea Turtle researchers!

As we segway from #WorldOceansDay into #SeaTurtleWeek we though we would share with you all an insight into just some of the research being carried out by @ExeterMarine at the Univeristy of Exeter!

Below, members of the Marine Turtle Research Group led by Profs Annette Broderick and Brendan Godley share their research and why they enjoy working with these ancient animals.

Ceren Barlas, PhD student 

Hello! I am a Ph.D. Biological Sciences student in the Marine Turtle Research Group at the University of Exeter, supervised by Brendan Godley and Annette Broderick. My research focuses on the marine plastic pollution in the Mediterranean and how it affects the physical and biological environment. The recent experiments at Alagadi beach investigated the effect of macroplastic contamination on the beach, where we compared the effects of different contamination levels and different plastic types on sand temperature. This type of contamination and resulting effects are important for sea turtles, as a change in sand temperature can change the sex ratios of the hatchlings and affect the reproductive success of future generations.

Find out more about the turtle conservation project at Alagadi Beach here.

 

Dr Ana Nuno, Research Fellow

How can we better protect sea turtle populations worldwide? We need to understand the root causes of problems affecting them… and that often means understanding how people use them (e.g. diet and culture). My research combines information about sea turtles and people so that we can design robust conservation programmes. For example, my research explored sea turtle farming as a way of promoting sustainable use of turtles in the Caymans Islands and assessed drivers of the illegal trade of marine turtle products in Cape Verde. There are so many different ways people value sea turtles… it’s crucial understanding these different perspectives so that we can find ways forward!

Find out more about Ana and her work here, and follow her on Twitter.

Research paper exploring the drivers and deterrents of illegal turtle harvesting.

 

 

Julia Haywood, PhD Student

I am a marine spatial ecologist working on female loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean Sea. Using satellite telemetry, stable isotope analysis, and satellite remote sensed data I aim to unravel the mystery of what they get up to when they aren’t nesting. Where do they go, how do they find their way there, what is so special about that place, and how do human activities affect them?

Follow Julia on twitter!

 

 

Dr Rita Patricio, Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Patricio is a Postdoctoral researcher at MARE-ISPA, Instituto Universitário, Portugal and University of Exeter, UK.

I research the green turtle connectivity along the West African coast and the Atlantic, using satellite telemetry, to assess their migratory routes, and genetic analysis, to investigate their origins. Other aspects we are also looking into include climate change impacts on the greatest green turtle population in Africa, habitat selection, and status of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle in the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau.

I work with an amazing team of students, researchers, national technicians and community members. Our work contributes to improve sea turtle protection, for example informing the zonation of MPAs, or suggesting regulations at priority sites, it helps to raise awareness, through the participation of local communities in conservation work, and it builds the capacity of national teams involved on research. Plus, disseminating our research results and activities boosts visibility enhancing funding opportunities for conservation.

It is fascinating to work so close to these charismatic and ancient-like creatures. Marine turtles are very symbolic to many coastal African communities, representing abundance, power, and fertility. Understanding local cultures and working together for the conservation of marine turtles for the coming generations it is most fulfilling.

Follow Rita on Twitter and find out more about the project by following the links below.

Sea Turtles in Guinea Bissau

Atlantic Migrants Marine Research Group  

 

 

Casper van de Geer, PhD student

I have recently started my PhD, where I will be looking into the ecology and conservation of marine turtles in Kenya. The fieldwork and data collection has been carried by the team at Local Ocean Conservation (LOC), founded in 1997 and based in Watamu, and is ongoing. Before starting my PhD I was the manager at LOC for four years.
I will be investigating turtle nesting trends and incubation temperatures, as well data collected through the LOC’s Bycatch Release Programme. The Bycatch Release Program aims to minimize mortality of turtles resulting from interactions with the artisanal fishing sector, which has been recognized as one of the major threats to marine megafauna in the Western Indian Ocean region. I will also be carrying out an assessment of this program to see if it should and could be replicated elsewhere.

There is still much we do not know about turtles in Kenya or indeed the wider Western Indian Ocean, so I’m excited that my research will be able fill some of these knowledge gaps and contribute towards effective conservation strategies for these incredible marine reptiles. These contributions will also demonstrate how important local grassroots conservation efforts, like those of Local Ocean Conservation, can be if they are carried out properly and consistently.

Check out Casper and Local Ocean Conservation on Twitter!

 

Dr Liliana Poggio-Colman, Postdoctoral Researcher

I’m a postdoc researcher working with the ecology and conservation of a small and critically endangered leatherback turtle population nesting in Espírito Santo, Brazil. We work together with @ProjetoTAMAR in Brazil to monitor them and investigate their nesting ecology, population trends, habitat use and threats. I love being able to work with such magnificent creatures.

Find Lili on Twitter and take a look at this video for more information on the project!

 

 

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, biological,  medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

#WorldOceansDay – gender and the oceans

This #WorldOceansDay we want to celebrate our academics who are working on understanding gender roles and how this impacts both the individual and society in coastal communities. In this post we introduce you to four researchers who are all working on different aspects of the influence gender has on roles, livelihoods and wellbeing within coastal communities.

 

Dr Tomas Chaigneau

Lecturer in Social Sciences for our Environment at the University of Exeter, Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) in Cornwall.

I am a social scientist who studies the relationship between the natural environment and peoples’ wellbeing. This involves understanding how individuals derive wellbeing from the coast but also how their actions can impact their adjacent environment. Through an interdisciplinary approach, I explore how conservation and natural resource management measures are contributing to wellbeing and poverty alleviation. In particular, the disaggregated and gendered nature of this work uncovers important trade-offs between the needs and wants of different individuals within communities and environmental management. This work seeks to find ways to reconcile these whilst minimising negative consequences for current and future generations.

You can find out more about Tomas’ research here

http://www.espa-spaces.org/

https://www.blue-communities.org/Home

https://www.navigating-complexity.com/home

Follow him on Twitter: @Tomas_Chaigneau

 

Dr Madeleine Gustavsson

Research Fellow at the Univeristy of ExeterMedical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

My research focuses on fishing families and communities – particularly concentrating on the small-scale fishing sector. I hold an ESRC New Investigator research grant titled: “Exploring the changing role(s), identities and wellbeing of women in small-scale fishing families.” The study focuses on how women in both the UK and Newfoundland, Canada, are sustaining small-scale fishing families. The project’s main goal is to investigate the role of women in responding to financial pressures in the fishing sector and to understand what this means to these women in terms of identity and wellbeing. 

We’ll be collecting data by interviewing people and listening to their experiences. This kind of research is called a qualitative study and our participants are the experts. We listen to their voices so we can include their knowledge in our research. We will talk to women about their experiences in the forefront of fishing businesses, and also learn about their roles in areas related to fishing—such as working in fish processing, markets, and restaurants

In the coming year we will conduct semi-structured interviews with policy makers and government representatives in the UK. We will explore how women can be supported by future fishing policies, particularly those following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

A further goal of the project is to establish a UK-wide network for women in fishing families. The Women in Fishing Network will help women to connect with each other, share experiences, and offer support.

More information is available here.

You can find out more about Madeleine on the Exeter website or on google scholar.

Follow her on Twitter: @mcgustavsson

Timur Jack-Kadioglu

PhD researcher at the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

My research, part of the UKRI GCRF Blue Communities Programme, is focused on how coastal communities in Palawan, the Philippines, perceive and experience livelihoods, and how these are linked with people’s wellbeing. In particular I am exploring how these are shaped by people’s gender, age, ethnicity, and class background.

Through empirical research in a municipality undergoing rapid change, I am seeking to explore how government and NGO narratives compare and contrast with the perceptions and experiences of different community members, and whether there are barriers or facilitators that influence people’s livelihood choice, in particular the most marginalised community members.

You can find Timur online or on Twitter here: @TimurJK

 

Dr Rebecca Short

Research Associate at the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

Coming from a marine biology background I have developed an interest in how people and the oceans interact, particularly the balances between the benefits we derive and the impacts we have on the oceans. Recently this has focused on the role women play in the fisheries sector; how we can improve gender equity and generate win-wins for coastal communities. My PhD focused on the use of mosquito nets as fishing gear, an activity of underappreciated importance to women in developing nations which represents both and ecological risk and a socioeconomic opportunity. I am now additionally researching broadly across topics linking human health and the oceans with the European centre for Environment and Human Health SOPHIE project where we aim to set an agenda for the EU that secures the health services we critically rely on from the oceans. 

As I continue my research, both further in to mosquito net fisheries elsewhere and also more generally in to links between the oceans and human health with the SOPHIE project at ECEHH, I know that gender will be a key focus for me. Importantly I also believe it should be a key focus in all research of this kind; whilst I may seem obvious to us now that leaving out half of the picture leads to terrible policies and results we have several centuries of half-baked research to backfill with the full picture!

You can find out more about Rebecca’s research here, and follow her on Twitter, @BeccaEShort

 

It’s #WorldOceansDay! A focus on gender and fisheries in Mozambique

This #World oceans Day, Dr Rebecca Short from the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) talks to us about her PhD research focusing on gender roles in coastal fishing communities in Mozambique.

Words by Dr Rebecca Short, Research Associate, ECEHH, University of Exeter

I did not know that the women of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique would be so central to my PhD research when I began investigating the coastal fishing communities of this remote part of the country. I was there to take a first look at an issue that has been in the background for a long time, but seldom a main focus for those interested in fisheries; the use of mosquito nets as fishing gear. This is assumed to be a terrible idea. By putting your net in the water with a goal of feeding your family or making a small income you are not only reducing protection from malaria-carrying mosquitoes, but also jeopardising the future sustainability of the fishery by sieving the fragile coral reef waters of fish of any size. This has been much discussed, though little scrutinised, with the result usually being to make it illegal – the case in Mozambique despite this impacting some of the poorest people. This I did know when I began and I must admit I presumed was a necessary evil to preserve the fish stocks for future generations.

It was therefore a bit of a surprise when on my very first day in the city of Pemba, having some lunch near the beach, when I saw a group of women very obviously fishing with their bright blue mosquito nets right by the shore. Surely this was quite risky? When I arrived in the much smaller villages north of the city which were to be my focus much of the same; women in the shallow waters, up to about chest height fishing with several mosquito nets sewn together in groups of three or four. Some days, groups of women fishing as far as the eye could see. Not an objection to be heard or fisheries official to be seen.

My first objective was to try to understand better the who, what, why and how of mosquito net fishing the only way I could think of; by going fishing with them. Whilst making a complete idiot of myself by apparently hauling in the net like a hapless baby, I saw a totally different side of the activity; it was fun. The groups of women were clearly good friends and laughed and joked whilst fishing (with or without my influence I should mention). This, I reflected, was in such contrast to their other main occupation of farming where they spend much of their time alone or with family on a small plot of land.

Early on in my research it was obvious there was more to it for women in what is a very conservative, patriarchal culture. Enabled by the free availability, lack of necessary fishing skills, and importantly perception of mosquito net fishing as acceptable ‘women’s work’ this has become their opportunity to make their own money (which can be more likely to contribute to community development than patriarchal income), to feed their children what is actually particularly a nutritious meal (Kawarazuka &  Béné, 2011), and of course a chance to have a break from the demands of their families! On top of this they had figured out their own economics; allotting catch according to net ownership, friendship loans of cash and food, and divisions of labour. Generating their own small industry. The significance of this should not be underestimated. Mozambique was recently rated 15th lowest in the world in the Girl’s Opportunity Index (Save The Children, 2016), and Cabo Delgado so remote from the capital of Maputo has some catching up to do with the rest of the country. Girls grow up here told that their best bet at a good life is to find a good husband, though divorce is not uncommon. To have an independent way to support your family can be more than survival but a way out of abject poverty.

If you’re wondering where the men are in this story – good question. I couldn’t really find them, and this alludes to the crux of the issue with mosquito net fishing. Because the men were using mosquito nets for fishing, you just probably won’t see them. They are further offshore, fishing with much bigger nets adapted for use over coral reefs where they would normally snag and tear, fishing in bigger groups with much larger catch sizes. This is what is seen as the problem with mosquito net fishing. Accordingly, a taboo is attached to this activity which does not exist for the women and the men hide what they are doing.

These differences are well known to the local people, and women fish so brazenly because they are not seen as a threat to the fishery. Yet nowhere in my preparation for this research, within the media, peer review literature or indeed by talking to officials did this come up. And I shouldn’t have been surprised – women are so often excluded from fisheries research. This may be because globally they play mostly secondary roles as traders, processors or indeed cooks. But even primary activities such as mosquito net fishing and what is probably one of the most widespread activities in small-scale fisheries, gleaning, are routinely disregarded in management and policy formation, whatever the governance system. This is reflected in research which focuses almost exclusively on male fisheries. But we are wising up! The field of gender and fisheries, and indeed gender and the oceans is rapidly growing. Not just as an area of interest, but driven by our increasing understanding of the critical role women play in successful development, conservation and sustainable management.

As I continue my research, both further in to mosquito net fisheries elsewhere and also more generally in to links between the oceans and human health with the SOPHIE project at ECEHH, I know that gender will be a key focus for me. Importantly I also believe it should be a key focus in all research of this kind; whilst I may seem obvious to us now that leaving out half of the picture leads to terrible policies and results we have several centuries of half-baked research to backfill with the full picture!

You can find out more about Rebecca’s research and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health here.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

A Day in the Life of an Arctic Field Scientist

Words by Clara Nielson, University of Exeter PhD Student

A day in the life of an Arctic field scientist

Hello! My name is Clara Nielson and I am a PhD student from Exeter University studying the impacts of global change on marine species in Dr Ceri Lewis’s lab. We are currently at 78 degrees north in a place called Ny Alesund, in Svalbard at the UK NERC Arctic Station for AXA XL Arctic Live with Encounter Edu. We are here to both conduct important research but also to communicate what we are doing to schools around the world.

Clara Nielson and Dr Ceri Lewis in the Arctic

Pulling open the curtains to a view of snow covered mountains and glaciers on the edge of a fjord will guarantee to put a smile on your face and put you in a good mood for the rest of the day. Our usual day starts waking up in the base and heading to the canteen for breakfast. Ny Alesund is home to a range of international scientists all coming and going at different parts of the year and the canteen is the communal hub where everyone can share a meal, and a story or two, before heading off for the day.

Arctic View

Weather permitting (we have had a few base days where we are unable to get out onto the boat due to high winds) we usually spend the day out on Teisten, the research boat, collecting water samples from different parts and depths of the fjord. We are out here to monitor the pH and carbonate chemistry of the seawater, as part of a global ocean acidification project. Ocean acidification is the change in ocean chemistry as a result of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and this process is happening fastest in the Arctic. The samples we are taking will help fill in the global picture of just how fast this process is happening. We are also sampling for any microplastics that may be in the seawater as the Arctic is also thought to be a hotspot for microplastic accumulation due to ocean currents. We were here last year doing the same sampling, and we did find some plastic, so it will be really interesting to compare our data and that of other long term projects to see how the Arctic is changing. Today it was -7oC, which is pretty cold but add to that the wind chill and we were out in temperatures of about -25 oC. This made sampling slightly trickier than at home as the seawater and all of our sampling gear was freezing pretty quickly, not to mention how cold my hands were getting! Its hard to describe how that sort of temperature feels but basically it’s painfully cold. Thankfully team work, biscuits and a kettle kept everything working!

 

The cold is soon forgotten as once the days sampling is over we can head back to our heated base but the hot shower has to wait just a little longer! First, we need to make sure all our kit is cleaned ready to go again tomorrow and the samples are stored away correctly.

After dinner we spend a bit of time looking through samples and manage to show our Arctic base manager Nick his first sea angel! This is a type of zooplankton called a pteropod, which flapped around our petridish and made this seasoned field man swoon at its beauty.

Frozen equipment is a daily challenge.

Before bed I spend a bit of time with Jamie, from Encountered Edu, going through what I shall be doing tomorrow as it is my day to take part in Arctic Live. Arctic Live is the other important reason we are all here, as alongside our research we are taking part in a live streaming educational lessons and question and answer sessions where we speak to school children live from around the world about our experiences and answer their questions about the Arctic and what it is like to work here. I am looking forward to hearing what questions the children have come up with! Its really cool that we can share what we are doing live from this amazing place, I hope it inspires them.

It is time for bed once we are all set for tomorrow, the 24-hour daylight is making it slightly harder to get to sleep as you feel like it should be the middle of the afternoon, not 11pm but it is important that we all get a good rest.

I feel very privileged to be out in such a stunningly beautiful place and it is without doubt the best place I have ever done field work in. The wildlife here is amazing too, today we saw a Minke whale from the end of the boat which was incredible. The Arctic is at the forefront of climate change where the impacts are being felt first and fastest and is also a hotspot for plastic pollution so it is probably the most important place to be doing this kind of science right now.

All images a courtesy of Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop of Encounter Edu.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, biological,  medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

 

Endangered Sharks on Sale in the UK

Written by Catherine Hobbs

 

Many shark populations are at risk, primarily due to overexploitation. In response,  conservation measures have been applied in an attempt to halt the decline of endangered species. A team of researchers led by Dr Andrew Griffiths at the University of Exeter sought to investigate the sale of shark products in fishmongers, fish and chip takeaways and Asian food wholesalers in England. Through DNA barcoding (a method using specific DNA sequences to identify species) they uncovered patterns of shark species found in the products and highlighted the diverse range of vulnerable sharks on sale to the general public.

For the first time in Europe, mini-barcodes were also used to identify species from dried shark fins obtained from a UK wholesaler intending to supply Asian restaurants and supermarkets. Analysis revealed a range of threatened species, including the endangered and ‘Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’ (CITES) listed scalloped hammerhead shark. A listing in CITES works by subjecting international trade of certain species to a rigorous licencing system and requires an assessment by the exporting country that the trade will not be detrimental to wild populations. The addition of scalloped hammerheads to Appendix II of CITES in 2014 provided conservationists with the hope that populations might bounce back. The findings in this study, however, indicate the need for larger-scale investigations to properly identify patterns of shark fin sales.

 

Dr Griffiths said, “the discovery of endangered hammerhead sharks is significant as it highlights how widespread the sale of declining species really is – even reaching Europe and the UK”. He goes on to say, “the result of the study is consistent with extensive separate investigations focusing on Asia, which commonly identified scalloped hammerhead in fin processing”. Additional fins sourced from a large seizure in the UK by the UK Border Force were also analysed. These fins originated from Mozambique and were on their way to Asia, emphasising the role the UK already plays in policing this damaging global trade.

Examination of the products from fishmongers and takeaways revealed that the majority of samples were identified as Spiny Dogfish, a small demersal shark that is endangered in Europe. However, it is important to note that the samples may have been imported from more sustainable stocks elsewhere, rather than from prohibited landings in the EU. Of great significance was the universal use of ambiguous ‘umbrella’ sales terms, where many species are labelled with the same name. Here it is clear that not only the presence of labels is important, but that specificity is key. Indeed, full compliance with EU legislations on the labelling of seafood was not observed and, without such labels, endangered species are at potentially increased risk of unsustainable exploitation.

First author, Catherine Hobbs said “this withholds vital information from consumers as they are subjected to buying endangered species when they perhaps thought the product was sustainably sourced”. She went on to say “it may be of particular relevance regarding potential allergies as well as pollutant content. Contaminants found in some sharks such as mercury, for example, could pose severe consequences to human health”.

Knowledge of shark species consumption in the UK, especially those of prohibited species and those of high conservation concern, enhances our ability to address the decline in shark populations. These findings indicate the need for more informative and accurate seafood labelling, not only empowering consumers to make informed decisions as to eating preferences, but also helping to reduce fraud. This could therefore aid in the conservation of threatened species. The study also highlights the existence of imported fins from highly threatened sharks and the UK must therefore be held accountable for its contribution to global shark decline.

 

 

The paper has been published in the journal Scientific Reports;

Using DNA Barcoding to Investigate Patterns of Species Utilisation in UK Shark Products Reveals Threatened Species on Sale

 

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

 

 

 

It’s World Penguin Day!

 Today is World Penguin Day!

 
Penguins are some of the most recognisable characters amongst the cast of species that call the oceans their home. Whether they love them (almost everyone!) or hate them, people I meet rarely fail to register an emotional response when I tell them I work on penguins. And that’s got to be a good thing this World Penguin Day because, globally, penguins are not fairing well. Of the 18 species of penguin, 11 are undergoing population declines and 10 are considered as threatened on the IUCN Red List. Penguins are threatened by climate change, pressure from fisheries interactions and pollution, amongst other things. But there are successful conservation stories for penguins species too and teams of dedicated people are working to ensure these charismatic species stick around to see many a more World Penguin Day in future.
Have a look at this blog post to find out more about our work to conserve African penguins: http://multimedia.earthwatch.org/a-comeback-story-in-the-making
or this recently accepted review for more information on all 18 species: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00248/abstract.
A Penguin-eye view: foraging for fish

Happy World Penguin Day!

Words and Images by ExeterMarine researcher Richard Sherley.

Scientists at Sea Podcast – Seals and Salmon Farms, with Lizzie Daly

Show Notes

Disclaimer

While we are very supportive of our alumni, we need to emphasise that the views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily representative of the University of Exeter and the guest’s views are their own.


In this episode, we’re joined by one of our alumni, Lizzie Daly. Lizzie is a wildlife presenter, filmmaker, and researcher whose work regularly focuses on human-wildlife conflict. In this instance, Lizzie was inspired to take action after reading about seals being shot in Scotland in order to protect fish stocks.

 

After months of research and frequent trips to Scotland, Lizzie released a film addressing the issue titled: ‘Silent Slaughter – The Shooting of Scotland’s Seals’. You can watch this below. The film was entirely self-funded and free to watch.

 


 

Silent Slaughter – The Shooting of Scotland’s Seals


“I’d like to see more conservation stories told in the reality of what they are”  


About our guest: Lizzie Daly

Lizzie filming an elephant translocation in Kenya.

Lizzie only graduated from our Penryn Campus in 2016, but has already achieved an awful lot as a wildlife presenter, filmmaker and researcher. Starting out as a wildlife expert on CBeebies, Lizzie is now a presenter for BBC Earth Unplugged and has featured on the BBC2 wildlife quiz show, Curious Creatures. After completing an MSc at Bristol University, Lizzie also spent two months in Kenya documenting human-elephant conflict management whilst producing, directing and presenting a video series that you can watch on her Youtube channel. In addition to this she has also become an Ocean Ambassador for the Marine Conservation Society, an ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute UK, she’s the Female Ambassador for Fjällräven and an Academic Teaching and Outreach Fellow at Swansea University.

 

 


Topics discussed

The role and importance of aquaculture in Scotland and attitudes of local people.

The pros and cons of alternative seal deterrents including:

  • Acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs).
  • Econets.
  • Double nets.

Seal shooting licences.

Salmon farming industry attitudes towards both seals and activism.

The challenges of filming controversial topics.

Telling important stories online/social media.


Ending on a positive note – What has happened since the release of Silent Slaughter?


Resources:

Lizzie’s Website

Lizzie’s Youtube channel

Lizzie’s Instagram

Lizzie’s Facebook Page

Lizzie’s Twitter

Bonus! Watch Lizzie presenting back in her student days (with our host, Ethan Wrigglesworth)


Hosted by Ethan Wrigglesworth

Episode and show notes produced by Ben Toulson and Ethan Wrigglesworth

Check out other episodes of the podcast here.

You can subscribe on most podcast apps, if you’re feeling kind please leave us a review!

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

It’s Stressful Being a Coral! Declining Coral Cover on the Great Barrier Reef

Author: Jennifer McWhorter

Jennifer McWhorter is pursuing her PhD in a joint program between the Universities of Exeter and Queensland. Using various climate and ecological modelling techniques, Jen hopes to improve our spatial knowledge of coral reef stressors.

 

The above diagram describes the process of coral bleaching followed by mortality. Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

 

Similar to humans experiencing a fever, coral reefs undergo similar stress. The more frequent the fever and the longer the fever lasts, the more life threatening it becomes. Sea surface temperatures in the ocean are increasing at an alarming rate due to human inputs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (Ekwurzel et al., 2017). In 2016/2017, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) experienced two back-to-back severe warming events that caused widespread coral bleaching[1]. According to the Australia Institute of Marine Science, hard coral cover on the GBR has declined at a rate that has never been recorded.

 

Figure 2. “Large-scale spatial patterns in change in coral cover and in heat exposure on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. A, Change in coral cover between March and November 2016. b, Heat exposure, measured in DHW (in degree C-weeks) in the summer of 2016. Map template is provided by Geoscience Australia (Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2018).” Source: Hughes, T. P., et al., 2018

 

In addition to coral bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns sea star outbreaks have been the main cause of decline in coral cover on the GBR within the past four years. The northern area of the GBR is expected to have lost about half of its’ coral cover. This estimate reflects the impacts of two episodes of severe coral bleaching from 2014-2017 and two cyclones.  The central reef has experienced a decline in coral cover from 22% in 2016 to 14% in 2018 due to coral bleaching and the ongoing southward spread of the crown-of-thorns sea star. Even though the southern portion of the GBR was not exposed to the 2016/2017 warming events, coral cover has dropped from 33% in 2017 to 25% in 2018. On the southern reefs, the crown-of-thorns sea star outbreaks appear to be the main cause for the most recent decline.

 

During my last trip to Australia, I assisted in injecting vinegar into the crown-of-thorns sea stars at Lodestone Reef on the GBR. The vinegar kills the sea star within 24 hours potentially reducing their threat to hard, or stony corals. Photo Credit: Chris Jones

 

“Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts,” says Prof. Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “Without a doubt the most pressing of these is global warming. As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events: 1°C of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years.”

“Ultimately, we need to cut carbon emissions, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”

 

 

[1] Coral bleaching – Coral bleaching occurs when the relationship between the coral host and zooxanthellae (photosynthetic algae, NOAA), which give coral much of their colour, breaks down. Without the zooxanthellae, the tissue of the coral animal appears transparent and the coral’s bright white skeleton is revealed. Corals begin to starve once they bleach. (GBRMPA)

 

Additional Resources:

Ekwurzel, B., Boneham, J., Dalton, M. W., Heede, R., Mera, R. J., Allen, M. R., & Frumhoff, P. C. (2017). The rise in global atmospheric CO2, surface temperature, and sea level from emissions traced to major carbon producers. Climatic Change144(4), 579-590.

Hughes, T.P. & Kerry, J.T. Back-to-back bleaching has now hit two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. The Conversation https://theconversation.com/back-to-back-bleaching-has-now-hit-two-thirds-of-the-great-barrier-reef-76092 (2017)

Hughes, T. P., Kerry, J. T., Baird, A. H., Connolly, S. R., Dietzel, A., Eakin, C. M., … & McWilliam, M. J. (2018). Global warming transforms coral reef assemblages. Nature556(7702), 492.

Media Release: Two Thirds of the Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching

Long-term Reef Monitoring Program – Annual Summary Report on coral reef condition for 2017/2018

 

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

Scientists at Sea (Episode 1): Do crabs have ears? with Emily Carter

 

 

Show notes

 

Emily Carter – @E_E_Carter

How does noise pollution impact one of our coastal favourites? Ethan and Molly talk to Masters by Research student Emily Carter about her current work which investigates how the presence of ship noise affects the rate of colour change in shore crabs.

 

Other behaviours that don’t rely on noise at all can be quite drastically affected by noise pollution

Useful links from this episode:

Fiddler crab

Selfish herd hypothesis

Shore crabs

Crabs hearing noise

Gylly beach

Penryn Campus

Steve Simpson, Matthew Wale, Andrew Radford

Martin Steven’s Group/Sensory Ecology

 

 

 

 

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!