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Reef sharks vanishing in the Pacific Ocean

The large-scale study estimated the number of reef sharks in the Pacific Ocean and found that in some places the sharks were down 90 percent.

reef sharkEnlarge
New study says reef sharks are disappearing from their Pacific Ocean habitats. (Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images)

Reef sharks in the Pacific Ocean have declined by 90 percent, according to a new study.

American and Canadian researchers blame hunting and sport fishing for the sharp decrease in shark populations.

"We estimate that reef shark numbers have dropped substantially around populated islands, generally by more than 90 percent compared to those at the most untouched reefs," said study leader Marc Nadon, of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, reported the Washington Post.

"In short, people and sharks don't mix."

The eight researchers examined the findings of 1600 investigations, known as "towed-diver surveys," into shark populations across the Pacific.

They found that the density of various kinds of reef sharks increased when the human population was sparse and vice versa.

Places like the Hawaiian Islands with more dense populations saw large decreases in shark populations.

“Around each of the heavily populated areas we surveyed — in the main Hawaiian Islands, the Mariana Archipelago and American Samoa — reef shark numbers were greatly depressed,” said Nadon, according to Scientific American.

“We estimate that less than 10% of the baseline numbers remain in these areas.”

Live Science said that the devastation in reef shark populations is likely a result of illegal fishing and sport fishing.

“Our results suggest humans now exert a stronger influence on the abundance of reef sharks than either habitat quality or oceanographic factors,” the authors wrote, said Live Science.

The research is found in the journal Conservation Biology.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/green/wildlife-news/120428/reef-sharks-vanishing-the-pacific-ocean