Sharks ‘Functionally Extinct’ From 20% Of the World’s Reefs

Aliwal Shoal, Indian Ocean, South Africa, blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) swimming in ocean
Aliwal Shoal, Indian Ocean, South Africa, blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) swimming in ocean

A worldwide study with a team of international scientists came to some alarming conclusions regarding shark populations on the world’s reefs.

The Global FinPrint survey found that sharks were “functionally extinct” on 20% of the 371 reefs surveyed in 58 countries. This means that their numbers are too small for them to play their crucial role in the reefs’ ecosystem.

While countries with little or no shark conservation efforts have seen a mass decline, those where there is a clear conservation policy have seen numbers stabilize and grow. Some of the best performing states include:

  • The United States
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • The Federated States of Micronesia
  • French Polynesia
  • The Maldives

According to the study’s lead author Aaron MacNeil:

“These nations are seeing more sharks in their waters because they have demonstrated good governance on this issue. . . . From restricting certain gear types and setting catch limits, to national-scale bans on catches and trade, we now have a clear picture of what can be done to limit catches of reef sharks throughout the tropics.”