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FinPrint, the largest survey of reef sharks and rays in the world, are conducting an international effort focused on learning more about why and how the numbers of sharks and rays are decreasing so rapidly.

FinPrint researchers use Baited Remote Underwater Videos Stations (BRUVS) – a non-intrusive tool for observing underwater life which is becoming common for surveying fish populations. A BRUVS unit, which typically consists of a metal frame with video cameras and a bait container attached to it will generally be deployed from boats and capture footage of sea life.

One of the goals of FinPrint is to detail which reef features are most important to retaining sharks and rays in abundance – at both local and global scales. There are several answers that the scientific team is looking to answer to achieve this goal.

“Things that influence shark and ray diversity and abundance include factors such as habitat type, whether an area is fished or protected, distance to human population, as well as other environmental factors such as water temperature and current speed,” Conrad Speed, a quantitative marine ecologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and post-doctoral scientist on the FinPrint project told Environmental Monitor.

Ultimately, the consolidation of this collaborative global research into one single analysis will aid management and conservation efforts for life on the reef.