KOTA KINABALU: Marine conservationists are hoping to get more information on ways to protect reef-associated sharks and rays.
For a start, they will carry out an underwater video study to look at the influence of humans and environmental surroundings on the sharks and rays.
The pilot project is organised by The Global Finprint Project in collaboration with Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA).
SSPA chairman Aderick Chong said yesterday that they also wanted to study these animals, which play a critical role in coral reef ecosystems, and to drive regional and global shark conservation.
He said The Global Finprint Project was the first global, multi-institutional effort to combine existing “baited remote underwater video (BRUV)” data to create the largest and most comprehensive data collection and analysis programme of the world’s populations of reef-associated sharks and rays.
“We chose Sabah because of its diverse marine life. Field work is set to start later this year and will run over the next three years to 2018.
“The waters of the Malaysian coast are home to some of the world’s most remarkable coral reef ecosystems, which in turn, are home to many species of elasmobranchs.
“We are interested in recording this information via the use of the BRUVs with the Malaysian Government’s consent,” he said.
Chong said the project would use BRUVs which would be deployed at selected sites around the tropical regions of the globe to record elasmobranchs species and populations in these areas.
“The research will not involve the removal of any samples and we are purely interested in what we can record on video,” he said.
He added that the equipment used was compact and lightweight and it would not damage the local habitat on deployment.
He said the team, which would be working with local organisations, hoped to deploy the BRUV equipment in Kota Kinabalu between today and Nov 23 before proceeding to Semporna to carry out studies for about three weeks.
More information about the initiative can be found at https://globalfinprint.org/