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    AES Conservation, Management, Policy

    2021-07-22   13:45 - 14:45

    Moderator: Lisa Hoopes

    1.  13:45  IN-PERSON    A Novel Conservation Strategy for Elasmobranch Population Reinforcement: the StAR project. Lisa Hoopes*, Georgia Aquarium; Grant Abel, Seattle Aquarium; Tim Carpenter, Seattle Aquarium; Alistair Dove, Georgia Aquarium; Christine Dudgeon, University of the Sunshine Coast; Mark Erdmann, Conservation International; Catherine Hadfield, Seattle Aquarium; Charlie Heatubun, The Research and Development Agency; Mochamad Iqbal Herwata Putra, Conservation International; Nesha Ichida, Thrive Conservation

    Captive breeding can be an important tool for the conservation of species through population reinforcement and reintroduction programs. These types of programs have largely focused on terrestrial and freshwater species rather than marine species and examples for elasmobranchs are noticeably absent. Here we present a novel framework for elasmobranch reintroduction efforts using the zebra shark (Stegostoma triginum) as a model species for population enhancement efforts in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. This conservation effort, named the StAR (Stegostoma tigrinum Augmentation and Recovery) project, proposes to take advantage of the oviparous reproductive strategy of zebra sharks and the hardy nature of their egg cases, which can tolerate trans-Pacific shipping. Egg cases produced by genetically-appropriate broodstock at participating aquariums will be coordinated for shipment to Raja Ampat, reared and monitored in grow-out pens, and finally tagged before being released within designated marine protected areas. Post-release survival and behavior will be closely monitored. This international, highly collaborative conservation initiative engages individuals from the aquarium sector, academia, conservation organizations, the Indonesian government, and local communities and is guided by the IUCN One Plan approach for species conservation with the common goal of recovering zebra shark populations in Indonesia. While in the early stages, the hope is that the StAR project can serve as a viable conservation model for other species of endangered elasmobranchs through captive breeding efforts.

    2.  14:00  VIRTUAL    Research and Policy Priorities for Threatened and Exploited Chondrichthyan Fishes in United States Waters: A Nationwide Expert Solicitation Survey. David Shiffman*, Arizona State University; Jessica Elliott, University of Miami; Catherine Macdonald, University of Miami; Julia Wester, University of Miami; Beth Polidoro, Arizona State University; Lara Ferry, Arizona State University

    Sharks and their relatives are some of the most threatened animals on Earth. Members of the American Elasmobranch Society report wanting to apply their research programs to generate data that can help to protect, manage and recover these animals. However, AES researchers also report uncertainty with respect to how to effectively determine what types of scientific data are needed. To address this important knowledge gap, here we present the results of a nationwide survey of experts in the scientific study, management, and conservation advocacy of threatened and exploited chondrichthyan fishes in US waters. Eighty-six experts participated in our survey, resulting in thirty-six identified research priorities and twenty-six identified policy priorities, as well as a variety of suggested species of particular concern that require special attention from researchers and advocates. It is our goal that these research and policy priorities will aid early career researchers hoping to perform policy-relevant research that can aid in the conservation and management of threatened chondrichthyan fishes.

    3.  14:15  VIRTUAL    CANCELLED - Overfishing and climate change elevate extinction risk of endemic sharks and rays in the Southwest Indian Ocean hotspot. Riley Pollom*, Simon Fraser University; Jessica Cheok, Simon Fraser University; Nathan Pacoureau, Simon Fraser University; Katie Gledhill, South African Shark Conservancy; Peter Kyne, Charles Darwin University; David Ebert, Moss Landing Marine Lab; Rima Jabado, ElasmoProject; Katelyn Herman, Georgia Aquarium; Rhett Bennett, Wildlife Conservation Society; Charlene da Silva, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

    4.  14:30  VIRTUAL    Sharks, lies, and videotape: Content analysis of 32 years of Shark Week. Lisa B Whitenack*, Allegheny College; Brady Mickley, Allegheny College; Julia Saltzman, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; Stephen M Kajiura, Florida Atlantic University; Catherine Macdonald, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; David Shiffman, Arizona State University New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Science

    One of Discovery Communications’ most well-known annual events is Shark Week, which has aired since 1988. Shark Week is one of the main ways that the general public receives information about sharks. The general sentiment among many shark scientists is that Shark Week has moved from purely natural history documentaries more toward “infotainment” over the years. Notably, Shark Week has included programming such asMegalodon: The Monster Shark Lives,where it was not clear to viewers that this program was purely fictional. Our goal was to analyze the content and titles of Shark Week programming to determine if there are trends in species, research featured, expert identity, conservation messaging, type of programming, and portrayal of sharks. Content of 178 episodes from 1991-2020 was assessed, and the titles of every episode (N=272) from 1988-2020 were analyzed for negative-associated words. Approximately 30% of the years had no negative titles, while 15% of the years had at least half that were negative; negative and non-negative years were interspersed. White sharks dominated the focus of episodes, while tiger, hammerhead, lemon, and Caribbean reef sharks were also regularly featured. Approximately half of the episodes ostensibly focused on scientific study or observations of natural behavior, while 15% consisted of non-experts diving with sharks for various non-scientific purposes. 14% of episodes consisted of dramatic reenactments of sharks biting humans. Many episodes do not feature any kind of credentialed or experienced expert. A handful of experienced credentialed experts appear regularly across episodes.

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