The Impact team at Vulcan works on various projects focused around wildlife conservation, ocean health, climate, and more. This Earth Day, we want to highlight some of the work Vulcan and its partners are doing in marine wildlife conservation, more specifically, in the space of an often overlooked group of species – sharks.
Sharks play important ecological, cultural and economic roles in our oceans and coastal communities. Many species, especially those that are slow-growing and unprotected from overfishing, are threatened with extinction due to the high demand for their fins, meat, liver, skin and gills. This alarming decline
is driving a community of scientists, conservationists, government officials and philanthropists to protect these species.
Many in this community are working with governments to set shark catch limits, create shark sanctuaries, and adopt trade protections like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES
), an environmental agreement among 183 countries that prohibits or regulates international trade of threatened animals and plants. Other groups have developed tools, like visual and genetic identification guides, to help custom officials properly implement and enforce trade restrictions.
Vulcan is one of these groups working to protect sharks and rays – by supporting partners to conduct critical research, developing new tools to use in the field, and collaborating with governments to adopt new tools and policies.
Photo credit: Global FinPrint
For example, Global FinPrint
, a project funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, is a survey of the world’s sharks and rays in coral reef ecosystems to fill in critical data gaps to help inform emerging management decisions to protect vulnerable species or ecosystems around the world. The global survey results are being analyzed, but these data are already being used in some places, including Belize
,to catalyze conservation action to protect threatened sharks and rays.
Some of the technical solutions the Vulcan team worked on include a data management system to consolidate data and video; annotation tools to inspect, ingest and review over 20,000 hours of Baited Remote Underwater Video; and analysis tools like ‘ElasmoFinder’ to improve image detection efficiency (stay tuned for a future post on ElasmoFinder).
In addition, an inexpensive, portable, and rapid DNA tool
to detect commonly-traded CITES-listed shark species was recently developed and tested in Hong Kong SAR by a team of researchers. Combined with visual identification and other tools and training
, governments will be better equipped to meet their CITES obligations.
The above only describes some of the work that Vulcan is involved in, and there are other efforts led by our partner organizations. And even with these efforts, there is more work to be done to safeguard the future of sharks and rays. Vulcan is in a unique position to help move the needle on this – serving as funder, developer, partner and collaborator. Stay tuned for more on these efforts and what is being done in this space, and visit Vulcan.com
in the meantime to learn more about our work.