12th December 2017
South Devon College Lecturer Dr Andrea Gaion is carrying out research on blue sharks. The study involves taking skin biopsies to gather data from the sharks using a biopsy dart, a non-invasive technique that does not faze the sharks.
One aim is to conduct a genetic analysis of the samples to assess the genetic diversity of blue sharks and discover how closely related they are. Another aim is to collate photos of dorsal fins to form an ID database, which will help to identify the sharks’ migration pattern.
Specific tests on the skin biopsies will also determine if bioaccumulation of contaminants is affecting the sharks’ health and provide marine pollution data.
The project was the focus of an article in the current issue of BBC Wildlife magazine. Producer/Director Ellen Husain spent a day diving at sea off the coast of Penzance, Cornwall with Andrea and his colleagues observing their work. She writes in depth about her experience.
Blue sharks are the world’s most heavily fished and fisheries currently have no regulatory limits on the quantity they can catch. The results of this research could help with the long-term conservation of the species.