Global FinPrint is a Paul G. Allen initiative that brings together an international research team and collaborators around the world to fill a critical information gap about the diminishing number of sharks and rays.
Shark and ray abundance will be measured using baited remote underwater video (BRUV) surveys conducted in four key geographic regions: the western Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, the Coral Triangle, and the Pacific Ocean.
It is the largest survey of the world’s reef-associated sharks and rays that has ever been attempted. The analysis of these data will tell us what features of a reef influence the local abundance of sharks and rays and, in turn, how these animals affect the reef. This will help inform shark and ray conservation actions, such as the designation and monitoring of protected areas.
Survey data and analysis will be made available through an open-access database created by Vulcan, Inc., a Paul G. Allen company, and will include information on species, their population trends, and their habitats.
Some sharks and rays may be keystone species that help maintain the balance of marine ecosystems.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, about one-quarter of the world’s sharks, rays, and skates are threatened with extinction, but the lack of comprehensive and accurate data is hindering conversation efforts to restore their populations.
Global FinPrint will help fill this critical information gap by providing data on global shark and ray populations and the factors impacting them. Information will also be gathered on their ecological role and behaviour.
Sharks and rays are important food and tourism resources for many coastal communities that rely on coral reefs.
BRUV surveys use baited video equipment to 1) capture the presence or absence of each species of shark or ray; and 2) estimate the sighting rate of individuals of each species.
The BRUV will be deployed from a boat using a rope and in-water personnel for proper down current orientation and will capture at least 60 minutes of footage after settling to the bottom.
Researchers will collect and analyze the BRUV data from each reef along with corresponding biological, environmental, and habitat data (e.g. bottom type, temperature, salinity, oxygen concentration, prey density).
The data from each reef will then be added into a central shared database for analysis.
The Global FinPrint initiative will analyze more than 42,000 BRUV records at 60-80 minutes each.
The data will be the foundation of a global, open-access shark and ray survey database that can be used to prioritize research needs and conservation actions.
Researchers, NGOs, and policy makers will be able to use these data to improve conservation plans and raise awareness of the ecological importance of sharks and rays.
Global FinPrint will assess the effectiveness of existing marine protected areas, identify new hotspots of shark and ray abundance that should be considered for protection, and establish the ecological role of sharks and rays in coral reef ecosystems in order to help justify conservation investments.
Paul Allen recognizes that the health of the ocean is critical to the health of the planet and believes that a data-first approach is imperative to protect our planet’s natural resources and secure a sustainable future for us all.
The Global FinPrint initiative, like many of the other ocean and wildlife conservation projects Mr. Allen supports, provides the data needed to improve understanding of the ocean ecosystem, drive better policies to help protect it, and encourage others to take action.
No; Global FinPrint is one of several within Paul Allen’s portfolio of ocean health and conservation initiatives that leverages technology and data to gain new insights and create innovative ways to protect wildlife and ocean ecosystems.
He supports many other projects, programs and researchers who use scientific methods and technology to gather open-access data that can enhance research and conservation initiatives, such as theGreat Elephant CensusandSea Around Us.
The program includes a multi-institutional team of global leaders in shark research convened specifically for this project by Paul Allen.
The project lead, Dr. Demian Chapman, has more than ten years of leadership in shark conservation research with specific interests in genetic and survey work to inform conversation actions.
Six other leading shark conservation researchers form the coordinating team for the Global FinPrint initiative, including Dr. Mike Heithaus, Florida International University; Dr. Colin Simpfendorfer, James Cook University and IUCN Shark Specialist Group Co-Chair; Dr. Euan Harvey, Curtin University; and Drs. Michelle Heupel, Aaron MacNeil, and Mark Meekan, Australian Institute of Marine Science.
The team will also collaborate with local scientists, citizen scientists, and volunteers in specific regions to help gather data, making it a true globally coordinated effort.