Status of Shark and Ray Communities in the Dutch Caribbean
Even as there is greater awareness about the ecological niche that sharks fill in the world’s oceans, their populations are declining.
Research by Imares has shown that a decrease in sharks as apex predators leads to a disturbed natural balance in the sea. This could have consequences for the total fishery stock.
In September, 2015, the Dutch State Secretary of Economic Affairs opened the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary, creating the eleventh shark sanctuary in the world. Since that time, additional work has been done to enact further protection for sharks in the waters of the Dutch Caribbean.
Last September, shark research on Bonaire began with a joint study commissioned by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), STINAPA, and Imares. This coming September, a research study group will be back on Bonaire to continue this research on the sharks which live in Bonaire’s waters.
There are openings for researchers; those wishing to apply need:
- Dutch citizenship
- Good analytical skills
- Good scientific writing skills.
The aim of the project is to develop a robust method for long-term shark and fish community surveys in the Dutch Caribbean. As many of the reefs in the Dutch Caribbean extend below safe limits for diving surveys, baited remote underwater stereo-video (stereo BRUV) will be used to study fish diversity, relative abundance and population structure.
Susan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.