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The First Hammerhead Breeding Site in Galapagos is Discovered

December 11, 2017

Juvenile hammerhead shark monitoring

During a recent monitoring trip of juvenile shark breeding areas, technicians from the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) identified a scalloped hammerhead shark breeding site for the first time. This finding will help the environmental authority develop conservation strategies and extend its studies to other similar sites in order to better protect this endangered species.

Park ranger Eduardo Espinoza highlighted the importance of the finding, which will provide a better understanding of the conservation status of these marine animals — which have been studied within the Galapagos Marine Reserve since 2009. A total of 1,378 juvenile black tip sharks have been monitored in the program, but only 21 juvenile hammerheads have been found in isolation. “This finding is very important for Galapagos and the region because there are very few sites detected as hammerhead shark breeding areas in the Eastern Tropical Pacific — and in Galapagos, it is the first,” said Espinoza.

During this monitoring trip, about 30 juvenile sharks were counted in the new site; nine of which were captured and tagged with internal and external identification devices for further studies. Hammerhead sharks are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to their slow growth and low reproductive capacity and their high susceptibility to exploitation from overfishing. 

Studies conducted within the Galapagos Marine Reserve have shown that hammerhead sharks tagged in the Galapagos are not only in the Archipelago, but also move within the region; they have been located in Coco Island (Costa Rica), and Malpelo (Colombia). For Galapagos National Park Director Walter Bustos, finding this site is very important for the region. “Directed fishing puts pressure on conservation species, in this case sharks that move freely through the Tropical Eastern Pacific. The oceanic archipelagos such as Galapagos, Gorgona, Malpelo, Coiba and Clipperton Atoll are shelters of protection so that species such as sharks can fulfill their vital functions,” he said.

Based on a press release from the GNPD, translated with their permission. Photo © GNPD.

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