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FindRayShark - Applying innovative technologies to the conservation of rays and sharks

Despite decades of research (including diving, tagging and fisheries data), insufficient knowledge of most species of elasmobranchs (i.e. sharks and rays) is impairing our ability to protect them. Thus, a paradigm shift is needed in our approach to acquire knowledge on the population status of these species. Project FindRayShark aims to greatly contribute to the conservation of rays and sharks worldwide by implementing an innovative technological approach to assess their populations, more specifically to survey species’ presence, abundances and individual sizes.

We will focus on two areas of the Northeast Atlantic, where elasmobranchs are particularly threatened, to test the approach in different contexts. First, the approach will be evaluated in a pilot area where sharks and rays are common (Azores archipelago - mid Atlantic). Then it will be applied in an area where observations are rare and knowledge on elasmobranch distribution and ecology is scarce despite high potential for their occurrence (Berlengas archipelago - mainland Portugal). We will also contribute to improve management and raise awareness. In project FindRayShark we will pursue three objectives:

1) Survey the presence, local abundance and size of sharks and rays with two complementary approaches, i.e stereo baited remote underwater video surveys and environmental DNA metabarcoding, and assess their value to conservation contexts;
2) Propose management actions and good practice guidelines adequate for the study area (i.e. considering elasmobranch populations, environment and stakeholders);
3) Raise awareness through dissemination activities to different target groups using project outputs.

Team
Researchers
Ana Cristina Pimenta Veríssimo

Ana Cristina Pimenta Veríssimo

Position: Post-Doc Researcher
Group:
MarChange
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Other members
Sofia Henriques (PI), Miguel Pais, Rita Vasconcelos.
State
Ongoing
Proponent Institution
Centro de Ciências do Mar e do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa (MARE)
Funded by
Oceanário de Lisboa and Fundação Oceano Azul
Dates
2018
Participant Institutions
Centro de Ciências do Mar e do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências, Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA)., Universidade de Lisboa (MARE)
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