Protecting a critically endangered hammerhead shark from their nurseries
Sphyrna lewini is one of the nine species of hammerhead sharks, and lives around the world in the tropics. According to the IUCN, this species is categorized as Critically Endangered since its populations have declined due to fisheries both as bycatch and as directed fishing, since their fins are highly valued in the international fin market. This shark has an interesting behavior in which females come to coastal waters called nursery areas to deliver their pups. Juveniles remain in these areas for their first years so coastal marshes and wetlands are an important habitat for their nurturing. In Costa Rica these areas are threatened both by habitat degradation and by fisheries.
After this first stage of life, adults move to open waters and islands, where constant migration is observed. Also in open waters and near the Cocos Island this shark is specifically targeted for its fins. Protecting this highly mobile animal that can migrate long distances is a hard task since its populations are not in a specific geographic place during all their lifetime. Also in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, population structure is not well known. Is it one population or are there several? Do females prefer specific nursing grounds to deliver their pups? Understanding population structure and movements of hammerhead sharks is vital to establish regional management and policies.
In the BIOMOL lab we are working in an investigation that aims to determine connectivity and genetic population structure of S. lewini in various coastal nursing areas in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panamá. The results of this research will be important to provide biological information for management plans that will aim to protect specific important geographical areas for this species persistence.
research & science
Identifying parasitic relationships in rays
Parasites host interactions are one of the most interesting relations in biology and can be used as ecosystem health indicators. By studying parasitic load we can identify potential disorders in the food chain, decline of host species and excess of pollution.
costa rica guide
internships & service learning
Story of an internship in the BIOMOL laboratory
Hello everybody, my name is Jordi, I am an environmental biologist from Barcelona, Spain, and I will tell you a little about the experience as an intern at BIOMOL Lab.
research & science
Studying the genetic connectivity of commercial fish in Costa Rica
Roy's First Post
Did you know which is the fastest fish in the ocean? The fastest fish of all is the sailfish, which can reach speeds of over 65 miles (102 km) an hour. The sailfish is part of a group of predatory fish called billfish, known for their prominent bills.
Nurseries for the silky shark, where are they?
The BIOMOL laboratory studied nurseries of the Eastern Tropical Pacific and identified that there are 3 populations of silky shark, divided by their capture country: Ecuador, El Salvador and Mexico. We can also suggest that the Mexican silky shark migration includes Jalisco as a nursery area for this species.
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