By Dorie Cox
Yacht crew, owners and even guests can make a difference in the diminishing shark and ray populations through a partnership with Global FinPrint and International Seakeepers Society (ISS). Requirements include one month advance travel notice, bait storage and potential SCUBA gear.
About 100 million sharks are estimated to be removed from the ocean every year, said Mark Bond, a research scientist with Florida International University (FIU), and he wants to learn how to help by using Global FinPrint’s baited remote underwater video (BRUV). These are easily deployed by boats around the world; yachts can sign up and take a few wherever they travel.
Angela Rosenberg worked on the ISS’s test trip with Capt. Jean Diedericks on M/Y Fugitive last year to help define the project for crew to handle on their own. She said the BRUVs come in a compact travel case, take one minute to set up, are lightweight, and can be handled by one person. She was previously director of programs at ISS and is now president of AGARI foundation.
“When you’re on site, you bait the cage, lower the cage and leave it in the water for 60 to 90 minutes,” Rosenberg said.
From a tender, she dropped four at a time in four prime shark locations, logged the time in, then picked them up and dropped them in a new location.
“My background is in research for 12 years, and this is easiest I’ve ever done,” she said. “The best part is that it’s compact enough to store and it’s not time sensitive. If crew don’t have time, they don’t have to do it. Or if they want to entertain guests, they can do a bunch in a day. It works around your schedule completely.”
Scientist do all the paperwork, captains do not have to deal with permits, and the BRUV can store in the lazarette, under a bed or with dive gear, she said.
“I like that anyone can do it; it’s perfect for yachting,” Rosenberg said. “Because it’s so easy, crew are very willing to do a couple and it returns a ton of data for a little work for science.”
Yachts were first invited to sign up for the program during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in November and ISS was on the docks during the Miami shows. Yacht crew are especially desired for this research because they can provide a more efficient way to do the research than divers or tagging.
“We want to avoid false data, which often happened when divers are in the water trying to get video,” scientist Bond said. “This is so much more effective than hooking one shark at a time; it allows for better comparisons. Yachts can also help us reach remote places.
“Twenty-five percent of the shark species are threatened with extinction,” he said. “Imagine if this was a terrestrial extinction. It’s just hard to visualize sharks because they are in the sea, so we want to locate these areas where they are.”
The waterways are integral to yacht crew’s lives, and crew are often interested in conservation. So is Capt. Diedericks, and that’s why he enjoyed working with Global FinPrint. He also sees a new personal interest through his 6- and 7-year-old children. But he said it is hard to be proactive.
“This is simple, even though we have such busy lives,” Capt. Diedericks said. “It’s nice to be part of this. Anything we can do to help.”