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Shark and Dolphin Report In

A representative of DoE Marine Parks Unit catches a shark for tagging.

The Department of Environment (DoE) reported research findings on sharks, rays, whales and dolphins in Cayman waters at a press conference yesterday morning (Thursday, August 16).

DoE had help with the research from Marine Conservation International, the Save Our Seas Foundation, and the Guy Harvey Research Institute. Baited camera traps, catch-and-release fishing, diver surveys, and satellite tagging were among the techniques used to study the animals' numbers and their ranging and migratory behavior.

DoE's Deputy Director of Research and Assessment Mr Tim Austin said: "We're really fortunate to have worked with this group of experts on these important issues. Sharks, as top-level predators in our marine environment, are key components, and previously we had very little reliable data or information on local species, populations and the pressures they face."

"Additionally, through this project, we are able to understand what species of whales and dolphins use Cayman waters as part of their home ranges or as seasonal migratory routes," Mr Austin added.

DoE's report on the research findings also shows that these animals are valuable to the Cayman economy in terms of the tourist industry. Not only do they play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem, but also sharks help maintain a healthy marine habitat, all while attracting divers and tourists. Without sharks, other species populations can explode, damaging vulnerable reef and sea grass habitats.

Mr. Austin reminds the public that "rather than catching and killing sharks, help DoE on our quest to promote a better understanding of Cayman's seas and the benefits of its larger marine animals."

He also added, "When people understand the value of these species, they will naturally become partners in our conservation efforts."

As public information is critical a consultation document is now available. This document gives concise results of the research, including the economic value of these animals from both eco-tourism and ecosystem perspectives, as well as some possible future management options to maintain these values.

Through a survey associated with the document, the public is encouraged to provide feedback on how the information should be used going forward to help manage elasmobranch (shark and ray) and cetacean (dolphin and whale) populations in the Cayman Islands.

For the next three to four weeks, a summary of the main report and the survey can be found online at www.doe.ky, where there is also more information on the shark and whale study, including links to the satellite tracks of tiger and oceanic white tip sharks tagged on Grand Cayman.

For more information on the report and survey, contact the department at 949-8469 or e-mail doe@gov.ky.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Yvette Cacho




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