Global FinPrint launched in 2015 as the first global survey of its kind, deploying baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS) to record sharks, rays and other sea life on coral reefs. We usually set 30 to 100 BRUVS on a reef and record animal sightings for 60 minutes on each one. (Read our BRUVS Protocol for more information.) The data allow us to identify the factors that affect the number and types of sharks and rays seen across the entire survey. Understanding the most important factors that are related to human-activities, such as conservation actions or fishing activities, helps resource managers decide what needs to be done at a local or national level to better protect these animals.
A Paul G. Allen initiative led by researchers at Florida International University, we united an international team of more than 120 researchers focused on four key coral reef regions: the western Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, the Western Pacific and the Central Pacific. Our analyses have identified conservation actions that are most likely to help these animals, as well as the nations that have the highest conservation potential.
To date we've surveyed more than 400 reefs in 58 countries and territories, with over 20,000 hours of footage - Watch some of our highlights. The data - and the scientific adventure - will be shared through an open-access database created by Vulcan Inc., a Paul G. Allen company.
Our first global analysis, published in Nature, found that sharks were absent on nearly 20 percent of the reefs surveyed. Reef sharks were largely absent in several nations that exhibited high human population density and poor governance of marine resources, highlighting the importance of working with local people and governments to address root social and economic causes of overfishing. Opportunities for reef shark conservation remain in most places: National shark fishing bans ("Shark Sanctuaries"), fishing regulations, no-take marine protected areas and other approaches are being used successfully in different parts of the world to prevent reef shark extinctions. We are working with local researchers and resource managers to implement fishing regulations, protected areas and trade controls based on our findings. We also identified locations where reef sharks are still common that could seed the recovery of populations in other locations if conservation measures are implemented.