Shark conservation faces several challenges, including the inability to estimate a global figure of shark removal and standing abundance, and the uncertainty about the structure of undisturbed marine ecosystems.
Few habitats in the ocean can be still considered pristine, but by comparing many oceanic sectors in different stages of depletion and reconstructing the history of their exploitation, we can estimate natural population abundance and define pristine ecosystem structures.
The Shark Baselines Project aims to investigate the structure and population abundance of large sharks in natural ecosystems and to infer global change in their abundance as an effect of human perturbation.
With a focus on coastal and pelagic ecosystems, we will integrate a large volume of data from many oceanic sectors to answer crucial questions such as:
- How many sharks can have a natural ecosystem of certain environmental settings and spatial scale?
- Given a certain habitat (coastal or pelagic), what are the dominant species of sharks under natural conditions?
- To what extent have sharks declined globally due to fishing?