Listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list, the brownbanded bamboo shark is being given support by a release programme in Rayong, Thailand.
Main picture a conservationist from the marine fisheries research centre in Thailand’s east coast releases brownbanded bamboo sharks into the sea, in this still image obtained from video. REUTERS/Kriengkrai Attanartwong
The bamboo shark is one of the smallest marine predators, growing to a maximum length of around 1.2 metres (4 feet), and are found across Southeast Asia, Japan, and Northern Australia as well as the Gulf of Thailand.
The small, slow moving, bottom dwelling sharks, feed mainly at night, using their small teeth to grasp or crush prey and pose no threat to humans. They have become endangered in recent years because of their popularity with fish collectors and exotic food diners.
The project has so far helped hatch, nurse and deliver more than 200 bamboo sharks to the Gulf of Thailand.
“We dive down to the sea base to release the fishes in safe area so they have a better chance to survive, rather than releasing them on the water surface like most other animals. If we release them on the water surface, there’s more chance they’ll be eaten by bigger fish or swim out from shelter.”Udom Krueniam, Fisheries official
Bamboo shark eggs are taken to the research facility where they are cared for prior to researchers carefully using scissors to cut off the end of an egg sheath to help release the baby shark inside. Many of the eggs and young sharks would be lost to predators if allowed to develop in the open sea.
The researchers take baskets full of young sharks, between 2 and 3 months old, to the ocean floor where they are then released.
It is hoped that the man made reef where they are released will provide the shelter and protection required for them to be able to mature and, in-time, reproduce.
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