Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: silky shark

Nominated by: Project AWARE

Why do you love it?

It may not be as well-known as its hammerhead, great white or oceanic whitetip cousins but the silky shark is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent! This streamlined and sleek ocean predator gets its name from its exceptionally smooth skin and metallic tone.

Project AWARE® has always had a lot of love for this shark but in 2016 we fell head over heels. The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17) was firmly on our agenda. Project AWARE rallied support from the global dive community and engaged with relevant governments to urge member signatories to protect the silky shark and other commercially valuable shark and ray species from the devastating effects of unregulated international trade. Together with our shark conservation partners, including Shark Advocates International and the Shark Trust, we delivered strong science-based arguments in support of international trade controls for the silky shark. And we celebrated, as proposals for the silky shark and other shark and ray species to be listed on CITES Appendix II were successfully adopted.

What are the threats to the silky shark?

This highly migratory, low productivity shark is at risk from substantial incidental take in high seas fisheries. Due to its beautifully marked skin, the silky shark is a popular target for the shark leather trade. Like many other sharks, it is also fished for its fins, meat and liver oil.

Silky sharks are among the shark species most commonly captured in pelagic longline and purse seine gear set primarily for tunas; the associated mortality is the primary threat to silky shark populations. They are vulnerable to overfishing due to slow growth, late maturity, lengthy gestation, and few young.

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and ranked among the top three most important sharks in the global fin trade, the silky shark truly deserves all our love and attention.

What are you doing to save it?

In our work to end overexploitation of sharks and rays, Project AWARE advocates for national, regional, and global conservation actions that limit catch based on science and the precautionary approach, and we advocate for the end of at-sea removal of fins. We inform, inspire and empower shark advocates to become shark defenders and use our powerful and collective voice to influence change for the most vulnerable shark and ray species.

In 2017, we encourage our community to be an agent of positive change for the ocean. We believe we can create a global culture that nurtures and sustains a thriving, vibrant ocean.

Find out about the many ways that Project AWARE help sharks and other marine creatures, and how you can help on their website.

VOTE NOW!

VOTE FOR ME!

May 17
Scalloped hammerhead

Scalloped hammerhead

Species: Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The hammer-shaped head of the scalloped hammerhead is thought to be a mechanism to spread out the ampullae of Lorenzini which are sensory organs that detect electric currents, chemicals and temperature changes.

More information: The scalloped hammerhead can be distinguished from other hammerhead shark species by the ‘scalloped’ front edge of its head. This species has a relatively slim body and is counter-shaded, with a brown-grey or bronze upperside and a white underside. This relatively large shark can grow up to lengths of 4.3 metres and can weigh up to 152 kilograms. Fish, cephalopods, lobsters, shrimp, crabs, other sharks and rays make up the diet of this species, and prey items are usually eaten whole. Generally occurring in the warm temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans over continental shelves, the scalloped hammerhead is also known to enter closed bays and estuaries and generally swims between depths of 0 and 275 metres.

Occasionally caught as bycatch by longline fisheries, the scalloped hammerhead is also caught commercially. Various products are made from the body parts of sharks, including shark fin soup from the fins and vitamins from the liver, as well as the meat which is sold for human consumption. Certain parts of this shark’s range are protected, including the area around Melpelo in Colombia, and there are plans to extend the legal protection to other areas. There are no other known conservation measures currently in place for this Endangered species.

Find out more about marine conservation at the Save Our Seas Foundation and Project AWARE.

Find out more about shark conservation at Bite Back and the Shark Trust.

See images and videos of the scalloped hammerhead on ARKive.

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Content and Outreach Officer

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