The first breeding and nursery area for endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks in Galapagos has been discovered off Santa Cruz, one of the main islands in the archipelago. Now Galapagos National Park scientists are studying and tagging the baby sharks in a bid to learn more about them and keep them protected.
Female sharks give birth in the area and depart, leaving their young among the reefs with enough food and shelter to sustain them until they’re big enough to range into the open ocean a year or two later.
Few other such sites are known to exist in the entire eastern tropical Pacific area.
Scalloped hammerheads were the first shark species to be protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, and they are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Targeted by fishing fleets for the Asian fin trade, they have low reproductive and growth rates, making their survival even more problematic.
Fishing is banned in about a third of Galapagos waters, and the nursery lies within a marine sanctuary zone.
Once armed with data from the tagging programme it is hoped that Ecuador will be able to liaise with other nations to extend protection to the sharks when they come to range beyond the islands.
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