Managing and protecting the reserve’s apex predator
The LEX-NG Fund has supported a shark monitoring program in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. The program is coordinated with national and international partners including the Galápagos National Park Directorate and the University of California-Davis.
Sharks enjoy protected status inside the sanctuary of the Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR), but not outside. As top ocean predators they help to maintain healthy and balanced marine ecosystems. Sharks are also a popular dive attraction in Galápagos, providing income to the local community. Although fishing is banned in much of the GMR, scientists have noticed a decrease in shark populations, possibly due to illegal fishing. Lindblad Expedition-National Geographic guests and other donors, in conjunction with international partners, have supported a shark research and conservation program in Galápagos to address these concerns.
The aim of the project is to produce information on shark populations, biology, and movement in Galápagos to improve the management and protection within the GMR. Scientists have monitored and compiled data on several species such as the scalloped hammerhead, Galápagos shark, white-tip reef shark, silky shark, and whale shark. Researchers affix radio tags to sharks, and their movements are tracked via MigraMar, a publically accessible tracking website. This allows the team to follow individuals as they cover the lengths of the Pacific Ocean. Scientists also used non-invasive lasers and photography to measure the length of whale sharks, enabling the study of this species, which is the largest fish in the world and highly endangered.
To read a blog post about the importance of shark studies and conservation in the Galápagos, click here.
The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund aims to protect the last wild places in the ocean while facilitating conservation, research, education, and community development programs in the places we explore. If you would like to learn more about projects supported by the LEX-NG Fund worldwide, please contact the Fund by email. To support our work by making a contribution to the LEX-NG Fund, click here.