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A global effort is underway to save endangered baby zebra sharks and reintroduce them to the wild. The slow-moving sharks have nearly disappeared from the waters of Raja Ampat, an archipelago in the West Papua province of Indonesia, due to overfishing. To combat this issue, 15 aquariums from around the world have teamed up to raise zebra sharks and release them back into the ocean through a process of “rewilding”.
Source: Good Morning America/Youtube
The process of rewilding zebra sharks involves breeding eggs in scientifically managed populations in aquariums, transporting them by air to local hatcheries in Indonesia, and then caring for them until biologists certify that the juveniles are ready for tagging and releasing in marine-protected areas. This effort is led by ReShark, an international collective of over 60 Conservation organizations, aquariums, government agencies, and more, dedicated to recovering threatened sharks and rays around the world. ReShark aims to release 500 zebra sharks over the next 10 years.
National Geographic photographers Jennifer Hayes and her husband David Doubilet documented this unprecedented effort in Raja Ampat. They revealed the process of raising zebra sharks in aquariums and how they are being cared for by “shark nannies” in Indonesia. The ultimate goal is to reintroduce these apex predators into the ocean ecosystem, where they are needed to ensure the health of the marine environment.
While rewilding land animals like pandas and wolves has been successful in the past, reintroducing aquatic animals back into their natural environment has never been done before. Therefore, this global effort to reintroduce zebra sharks into the wild is a significant step towards restoring ocean ecosystems.
The success of this project could potentially pave the way for other aquatic species to be reintroduced and repopulate in their natural habitats. This is crucial as many species are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate. Aquariums play a significant role in Conservation efforts by providing a safe space to breed and raise endangered species.
As individuals, there are steps we can take to Support Conservation efforts, such as reducing plastic waste and supporting sustainable fishing practices. By making small changes in our daily lives, we can help ensure that our planet’s ecosystems thrive for generations to come.
The efforts being made by ReShark and the 15 aquariums involved in the rewilding of zebra sharks are a significant step towards the restoration of ocean ecosystems. We must all take action and Support Conservation efforts to ensure the survival of endangered species and the health of our planet.
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