These researchers are saving sharks - CSI style!
The global shark fin trade is one of the primary reason nearly 100 million sharks are killed each year. Shark fin soup has been considered a delicacy in China for centuries and the rising upper-class of China keeps demand for shark fins high.
The Pew Charitable Trusts is an independent non-profit organization based in Philadelphia whose mission includes "informing the public by providing useful data that illuminates the issues and trends shaping our world."
Pew Trusts have granted shark researcher and PhD Demian Chapman a fellowship to study how effective recent trade restrictions involving several shark species, including oceanic whitetips, will be on the shark fin trade.
Graduate shark anthropologist, Kristin Paterakis, tells us, "As much as we fear sharks, we depend on them to keep our oceans healthy and in balance. DNA is proving to be a crucial part of learning more about these animals including population dynamics and tracking where sharks migrate while alive and also where their fins are sent. Organizations ... are now collaborating with local fishing communities to obtain samples of sharks in order to help unravel their mysterious lives and to help improve protection measures."
Chapman and his team are using the same DNA science tools that crime investigators use to figure out a variety of information from shark fins such as origin, species, and more.
This cutting-edge technology and research could help conserve these vitally important ocean dwellers.