Scientists warn against culling of sharks

Washington: Scientists have cautioned against the culling of sharks because long term ecological impact cannot be predicted.

Researcher Jennifer Ovenden of the University of Queensland said that like humans, sharks could live for a very long time and their rate of reproduction was comparatively low, and added that people need to be particularly careful about the numbers of sharks harvested, either commercially or by culling from wild populations.

Ovenden said they could estimate the number of sharks in Australian waters, but it would be a number of years before they know if the populations were increasing or decreasing.

He added that their research would help determine if the recent increase in shark attacks in Australia was due to an increase in shark numbers or to an increase in human interaction.

Ovenden explained that they used DNA analysis from individual sharks to give estimates of the number of breeding adults.

The digital model confirms this, then predicts the number of juveniles and sub-adults.

The researchers validated this method on leopard sharks on the east coast of Queensland by comparing the estimated number of breeding adults with direct counts of adults in the population.

Ovenden and his colleagues have extended the research to monitor the number of sharks caught commercially for the Australian market.

Ovenden further said our new technology would allow us to accurately monitor any increases or decreases in shark populations.

The study is published in the Journal Conservation Genetics. (ANI)