Sharks: Predators in Peril
Fins and head of a Spottail shark (Carcharhinus sorrah) is arranged on a table at a fish market in Ranong, Thailand. Base from several scientific studies in the past decade, sharks is now considered as one of the most threatened groups of vertebrates on Earth (Dulvy et al., 2014).
A group of tourists during a photoshoot with the image of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) at Trick Eye Museum, Phuket, Thailand. Despite the understanding of shark issues is gaining momentum among the publics, the old perspective of the past still remains.
An adult Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) is dragged onto a motorcycle trailer by workers at the Fish Marketing Organization landing site after the auction, Ranong, Thailand. Even they are considered as bycatch in non-selective fisheries, sharks is the group that have suffered the most severe declines (Pauly & Chuenpagdee, 2003).
In the night, commercial fishermen on a Thai trawler moves drums of their daily catches on the deck, Mergui Archipelago, Republic of the Union of Myanmar. According to anecdotal data from fishers, most of the landings were caught outside of Thai waters, where majority were fished in the neighbouring countries such as Myanmar.
A pile of newborn Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) were arranged for auction at a fish landing site in Ranong, Thailand. Recently it was found that majority of the landings of most shark species comprise of immature individuals or neonates, which suggests the situation of recruitment overfishing (Arunrugstichai, unpubl. data).
A shark fin trader trims cartilage from a pectoral fin of a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) caught from the Andaman Sea in a shark processing factory in Ranong, Thailand. According to a recent FAO report that was published in 2015, Thailand has now become the leading exporter of shark fins in the World (Dent & Clark, 2015).
In the Chinatown, cooks are seen preparing bowls of shark fin soup in the Kitchen at a Chinese restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand. Considered as an imperial cuisine, the demand for shark fins fuelled by the economic growth in China is a major cause, which have been driving shark fisheries in the Worlds Ocean.
Dr. James D. True, a lead researcher at the Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity of Peninsular Thailand examines a specimen from the shark taxonomic collections, maintained at Prince of Songkla University, Thailand. Despite the ongoing overexploitation that have been recorded, there is still limited scientific understanding of sharks in Thailand, which greatly hinders management efforts, similarly to other countries in the Southeast Asia region.
A researcher at James Cook University counts the growth band on a sectioned shark vertebrae to assess its age, Townsville, Australia. Age is an important life-history parameter to conduct age and growth study of sharks, which helps conducting population assessment and sustainable management of the shark fisheries.
A child gaze at a captive Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) while walking inside the acrylic tunnel at Siam Ocean World, an aquarium located in Bangkok, Thailand. Despite there are some criticism in some instances on keeping threatened species in captivity, public aquariums are the main location where the publics can learn about these marine predators.
Mette Schiønning, a graduate student looks at a dried jaw of a Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) at a souvenir stall in Phuket, Thailand. Dried jaws from various sharks species are common souvenirs among coastal cities in Thailand.
Under the breaking wave at Koh Bon Island in Mu Koh Similan National Park, a group of divers swims with a juvenile Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus), Phang-ga, Thailand. These gigantic yet harmless sharks are often encountered in the Andaman Sea of Thailand, being one of the top spot for shark divings in the country.
With the global population declines and their sensitivity to overexploitation, sharks is one of the most threatened vertebrate group on Earth. Despite the global awareness and movement for conservation of these elasmobranchs, the situation in Southeast Asia countries, such as Thailand is still relatively grim with over 90% declines were recorded in the past 10 years.