"Almost two-thirds of sharks and rays that live around the world’s coral reefs
are threatened with extinction with potentially dire knock-on effects for
ecosystems and coastal communities, according to new research.
Overfishing was the main cause of the declines over the past half a century,
with larger sharks and rays being particularly hard hit.
“These sharks and rays have evolved over 450m years and survived six mass
extinctions but they can’t deal with this fishing pressure,” said Prof Colin
Simpfendorfer, a global expert on sharks and rays and one of the study’s main
authors from Australia’s James Cook University.
“This is not just a few species,” he said. “This is a broad extinction crisis.”
As sharks and rays disappeared, the study said there would be cascading effects
on other species with “growing ecological consequences for coral reefs, many of
which will be hard or impossible to reverse,” a team of more than 30
As global heating risks the future of coral reefs around the world, the
pressures facing shark populations would only get worse, the authors said.
Without broad-scale and urgent global action to cut the numbers of sharks and
rays being caught, there would be “increasingly dire consequences for the
ecosystem health of coral reefs and coastal communities that rely on them.”
The new study, in the journal Nature Communications
, builds on findings from
a 2020 study that concluded sharks were “functionally extinct” on 20% of the
world’s coral reefs."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics