Just Some of the SRI Successes
SRI Director of Science & Research Jennifer Schmidt, and Deputy Director Dave Grant, spent a week studying whale sharks in the Gulf of California aboard the MV Adventure, in a collaboration with Tiburon Ballena Mexico; a Florida bill has been signed into law that makes it a crime to trade or offer shark fins for sale; SRI Executive Director Marie Levine attended the the World Ocean Conference held at United Nations; SRI Deputy Director Dave Grant joined a team of researchers to study the world’s largest colony of Laysan and black-footed albatross on Midway Island in the Marine National Monument of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; SRI Director of Science & Research Jennifer Schmidt, along with numerous volunteers, participated in an Earth Day cleanup along the Texas Gulf Coast, including the coastal area now formally adopted by SRI; the book Friends in My Pool, by Lee Peterson, a member of the SRI Advisory Board, was published; the research vessel Sharkwater was christened under captain Alex Antoniou, formerly SRI’s Director of Field Operations; SRI staff and volunteers participated in the SUBMERGE Marine Festival in New York; the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) held in the Philippines saw the listing of whale sharks on Appendix I, indicating a strong need for increased conservation, and blue, dusky, and angel sharks listed on Appendix II
SRI Deputy Director Dave Grant studied sharks while sailing the Atlantic from Argentina to Africa, with stops at South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena and Ascension Islands. Jennifer Schmidt, SRI Director of Science & Research, served as chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the 4th International Whale Shark Conference in Doha, Qatar; Marie Levine and Jennifer Schmidt attend the 17th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Johannesburg, South Africa – the conference saw silky sharks all three species of thresher shark, and all 9 species of mobula rays, accorded the protections of CITES Appendix II; SRI, along with the New Jersey Maritime Museum presented a Shark Awareness Dinner to commemorate the anniversary of the 1916 shark attacks off the New Jersey coast – Richard G. Fernicola, M.D. author of “12 Days of Terror” and SRI Educational Director Dean Fessler were featured speakers at the event; the New Jersey state senate passed a bill prohibiting the sale, trade, distribution and possession of shark fins; President Obama created world’s largest marine protected area by quadrupling the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, created in 2006 by President George W. Bush; the book Hidden History of Maritime New Jersey was published, written by Chairman of the SRI Board of Trustees Captain Stephen D. Nagiewicz
SRI expeditions photographed and studied whale sharks in Mexico and Cuba: Research on the species continued off East Africa and in the Persian Gulf; Research on shark fisheries in Arctic Seas; Software to ID Shark Fins distributed; Shark finning banned in Texas; Seventh Shark Celebrity Auction introduced members to celebrity scientists, photographers, filmmakers and authors; Provided speakers at schools, events, and symposiums and conducted fossil shark tooth hunts for members; Attended the Australian Shark Summit; Exhibit at Nova SE University and papers published in scientific journals.
Expedition to Tiger Beach in the Bahamas & research continued off East Africa; Campaigned against the drumlines and shark nets in South Africa and the shark cull in Western Australia, SRI Board members honored at Blue Ocean Film Festival; Sixth Shark Celebrity Auction introduced members to celebrity scientists, photographers, filmmakers and authors, Exhibited on NJ Boardwalk; Joint study of sandtiger sharks with Jenkinson’s Aquarium, Exhibit on New Jersey Boardwalk and conducted fossil shark tooth hunts for members; Provided speakers at schools, events, and symposiums, Published papers in scientific journals on antibiotic susceptibility of bacteria in mouth of blacktip sharks, danger of conditioning shark to seek food from humans and identified the increased risk of shark attacks in North and South Carolina; Chris Wade of SharkBoat and his crew began operations in Costa Rica.
At CITES CoP16, SRI supplies scientific data to delegates in support of proposals to list five species of sharks and all manta rays on Appendix II, and the proposals succeed. Brunei enacts the first nationwide ban on shark fishing and the sharkfin trade. Studies on mako sharks and sandtiger sharks are initiated. The US States of Delaware and Maryland prohibit the sale and possession of shark fins.
Costa Rica bans the shark fin trade, French Polynesia creates a shark sanctuary, Cook Islands and American Samoa ban shark fishing and possession and sale of shark products, and Illinois bans the possession and sale of shark fins, effective January 1, 2013. Dr. Jennifer Schmidt studies the seasonal aggregation of whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura at Djibouti, Gulf of Mexico, and both Oslob and Donsol, Philippines. SRI programs presented in east coast aquariums. SRI lobbies for support of shark proposals to be introduced at CITES Cop16.
Shark finning banned in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Honduras, Taiwan and Chile. Bahamas prohibits the fishing for, sale and trade of shark products. SRI President, Jupp Kerckerinck is keynote speaker at the State of the Oceans in Costa Rica, and Costa Rica declares a Marine Protected Area. The US states of Washington, Oregon and California pass bills banning the possession and trade in shark fins. In Hong Kong, at the event attended by SRI’s Sylvia Earle, David Doubilet and Michael Aw, sponsored by Ocean Geographic, the Hong Kong Shark Foundation and SRI, one thousand children take a pledge never to eat sharkfin soup.
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. named Honorary President of SRI. Director of SRI’s DNA study, Dr. Schmidt, reports finding of embryos of whale shark had single father. Hawaii bans possession and trade in shark fins. SRI scientists attend CITES CoP15 in Doha, Qatar. SRI presents President Johnson Toribiong of Palau with Ocean Heritage Award. Exhibit in New York of SRI board member Al Vinjamur’s photographs of sharks. Ralph Collier and Marie Levine consult on-site in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt and identify causal factors of recent shark attacks.
SRI lobbies in Washington, DC for the Shark Conservation Act, and initiates campaign to remove sharkfin soup from NYC menus. SRI Director Leonard Compagno, Ph.D. receives the Gibbs Award for Excellence in Systematic Ichthyology. Palau creates the world’s first shark sanctuary. SRI’s Jennifer Schmidt and Whale Shark Scientific Advisory Committee meet in Gujarat India.
Shark Research Institute Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Awards presented at Beneath the Sea. SRI presents papers at the Second International Whale Shark Conference in Mexico. SRI works with eBay to remove sellers of products from endangered shark species from their site. SRI presents the Ocean Heritage Award to President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines at the palace in Manila. SRI Director Leonard Compagno is awarded the Gilchrist Medal for “outstanding contributions to the enhancement of marine and coastal science.” in the Southern Ocean.
Shark Research Institute Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Awards are presented at the Explorers Club. SRI scientists attend CITES CoP 14 in The Netherlands and the Whale Shark Scientific Advisory Committee in Gujarat India.
SRI Shark Conservation Awards are established. SRI opens a field office in Taiwan. Work continues in the Galapagos. SRI initiates campaign to remove shark fin traders from Alibaba.com, China’s leading ecommerce company. Tracking study of whale sharks in Tanzania is initiated.
New environmental and conservation biology studies of scalloped hammerhead sharks at Cocos Island utilizing radio telemetry are initiated. The Global Shark Attack File, with verifiable references and a downloadable Excel spreadsheet, is placed online to inform the public and the media of the minimal risk of negative shark encounters. Sharks of the World , the first-ever field guide to sharks, by SRI Director Leonard Compagno is published by Princeton University Press, subsequently reprinted by Harper Collins. NJ Shark Survey is initiated. SRI presents papers at the 1st International Whale Shark Conference in Perth, Australia. SRI takes a strong stand against sharkfin soup on the menu at Hong Kong Disney, and the dish is removed from their menu.
2004: At CITES CoP 13 in Thailand, SRI supplies scientific data to delegates in support of the proposal to list the white shark on Appendix II. The white shark receives the required votes and is listed by CITES. Expedition to Manta, Ecuador.
2003: Leonard J.V. Compagno, Ph.D., originally Director of Science and Research, is appointed Director of SRI. Photo catalogue of whale sharks in Mexican waters (Holbox and Bay of LaPaz) is completed.
2002: SRI scientists present data at CITES CoP12 in Santiago, Chile, in support of Appendix II listings for whale sharks and basking sharks. Both species receive the necessary votes for the listings. SRI field station is established at LaPaz, Baja, Mexico. SRI continues its population study of sharks in the Galapagos Marine Reserve utilizing radio and satellite telemetry.
2001: New environmental and conservation biology studies in the Sea of Cortez focus on whale sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks and Pacific manta rays. At request of the Ecuadorian government and to establish a management plan for sharks in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, a population survey of sharks in the Galapagos Islands is initiated by SRI. Two research programs are initiated in India, as is a tagging study of sandtiger sharks off the coast of North Carolina.
2000: Alerted to the slaugher of whale sharks in Gujarat, India, SRI scientists travel to India, meet with fishers, establish relationships with local conservation groups and government. Throughout the year the strategy meetings and alliances with local conservation organizations and central government throughout the year result in protective legislation for whale sharks, and other species of sharks in 2001.
1999: Honduras becomes the first nation in the Caribbean to legislate protection for whale sharks as result of SRI presentation quantifying their economic value to the country, and SRI legal team drafts the legislation.
1998: In March, the Philippines enacts protective legislation for whale sharks and manta rays. SRI field station opens on Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras. Satellite telemetry tracks whale sharks in the Indian Oceans and in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Provided speakers for Mexico’s Fourth National Underwater Exposition
1997: SRI deploys real-time satellite tag on whale sharks off South Africa. In conjunction with molecular biologists from Princeton University, a study of whale shark mtDNA commences. In 2002, Jennifer Schmidt, Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago enlarges the study to include microsatellites. SRI works with Philippine Department of Tourism on conservation of whale sharks and establishment of a whale shark museum in the Philippines.
1996: SABC-TV produces documentary film on SRI’s whale shark tagging program.The whale shark tagging program is expanded to the Seychelles after a tagging team from SRI-South Africa travels there with microlight and conducts training sessions. Great White Sharks by Marie Levine is published by Weigl, and subsequently reprinted by Raintree Steck-Vaughn. SRI field tests shark repellent and shark attractant devices for manufacturers. SRI-South Africa team continues training dive operators in Seychelles.
1995: Analysis by three labs of tissue from stranded whale sharks indicates extremely high levels of lead metals, results are provided to government agencies. SRI acquires a mobile field lab for use in Mozambique, and the tagging program expands to Mozambique.. SRI on Brazil and New York television, presented lectures at the National Academy of Sciences, and provided data to National Marine Fisheries Service.
1994: SRI staff perform necropsies on six stranded whale sharks. Q&A sharks by Marie Levine is published by New Holland in the UK and South Africa. SRI-South Africa team s trains Seychelles dive operators on whale shark tagging protocols.
1993: SRI initiates a whale shark tagging program which remains the oldest and largest whale shark tagging operation in the world. SRI-purchases its first microlight and initiates a five-year aerial survey of whale sharks in South Africa. SRI scientists present papers at the White Shark Symposium held at UC-Davis.
1992: Dr. Maurice Coutts produces a documentary film on bull sharks, and works with Dr. Eugenie Clark in the Red Sea from Ras Mohammed to the Gulf of Aqaba. In Scotland, Dr. Coutts meets with Dr. Monty Priede, the first person to successfully use satellite telemetry to track a basking shark in the North Sea. SRI agrees to maintain the Global Shark Attack File, a database and case histories of shark-related injuries by and for medical professionals.
1991:The Shark Research Institute (SRI) is founded by Marie Levine who enlists other members of the famed Explorers Club. Created as a multi-disciplinary scientific research and conservation think tank, it draws from diverse disciplines: medicine, physics, marine biology, oceanography, aviation, ocean advocacy, information technology, and law.