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Hammerhead shark study shows importance of migratory routes to ensure the protection of endangered marine species of extinction

San José, Costa Rica (March 18, 2019) –


The study “Movements of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) in Isla del Coco, Costa Rica and between oceanic islands in the Tropical Eastern Pacific ”, was published in PLOS One, an open content scientific journal created by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in 2006. This multi-institutional research effort demonstrates the importance of marine protected areas and the need to extend them to their migratory routes to guarantee the protection of this species in Danger of Extinction.

The study is part of MigraMar’s regional initiative to understand the movements of endangered species from
extinction with respect to marine reserves. Elena Nalesso, who published the research as part of obtaining
of her master’s thesis at the Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education (CICESE) in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, carried out the research with a group of scientists based in the Tropical Pacific Oriental, who have tagged hammerhead sharks with acoustic transmitters at critical points on the oceanic islands of
the region to study their movements within the marine protected area of ​​the Isla del Coco National Park in Costa
Rica, Galapagos National Park, Ecuador and the Malpelo Natural Park in Colombia.

”Although some sharks showed a high level of residence on Isla del Coco, our research indicated that sharks
belonging to other islands are constantly moving between them in areas where there is little or no protection and
where they are constantly threatened by commercial fishing operations, ”said Nalesso.

This research suggests that the Galapagos and Malpelo populations can use Coco as a reference point.
or navigation stop during seasonal migrations to the coast of Central and South America. Not with this
only the relationship of the oceanic islands and the importance of these for the conservation of marine fauna is demonstrated, but which exposes the possibility of creating a network to link critical habitat areas to safeguard the migration of this endangered species in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

Dr. Alex Hearn, professor and researcher at the Galapagos Science Center at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador), and one of Elena Nalesso’s thesis supervisors, said that “the implications for the management and conservation of this research indicates that the protection of ocean hotspots is essential but insufficient for the protection of hammerhead sharks. If we want to recover these endangered species, conservation efforts will also
they must include the protection of their migratory routes ”.

“New researchers in marine ecology face great challenges in developing knowledge for the conservation of marine fauna and its sustainable use, under the pressure of the rapid growth of the world population and its demand
of food ”commented Dr. Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki, Supervisor of Nalesso during his postgraduate degree in Marine Ecology at the CICESE.

Todd Steiner, Executive Director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network said that “to ensure the protection of the species highly migratory, we need new conservation tools, such as those proposed in the ‘MigraVía Coco – Galapagos’ which suggests the creation of protected “highways” that link the points of the marine areas under conservation with its ocean access ”

Randall Arauz, currently Marine Conservation Policy Advisor for Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation said “We are committed to continuing this 14-year research project and providing authorities
Costa Ricans get the best possible information to expand protection around Cocos Island ”.

Co-authors include Elena Nalesso 1,2, Alex Hearn 3,4,5, Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki 1, Todd Steiner 4,5, Alex Antoniou 6, Andrew Reid 7, Sandra Bessudo 5,8, German Soler 5,8,9, A. Peter Klimley 5 ,10, Frida Lara 5,11, James T. Ketchum 5,11, Randall Arauz 2,5

1. Department of Biological Oceanography, Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
2. Sea Turtle Restoration Program, San Jose, Costa Rica
3. College of Biological and Environmental Sciences / Galapagos Science Center, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador
4. Turtle Island Restoration Network, Forest Knolls, California, United States of America
5. MigraMar, Forest Knolls, California, United States of America
6. Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of America
7. Jurassic Shark Expeditions, Dorchester, United Kingdom
8. Malpelo Foundation and Other Marine Ecosystems, Bogotá, Colombia
9. Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia
10. Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis, California, United States of America
11. Pelagios Kakunjá A.C., La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico