Shark & Rays
Approximately 120 elasmobranch (shark and ray) species are found within Mozambican waters. Although MMF research efforts have focused on the largest of these, namely whale sharks and the two species of manta rays, we are also interested in the others. Our key research activities are:
Shark catches in artisanal fisheries
Effective conservation work is built upon a clear understanding of which species are at threat, and from what. With this in mind, we conducted a literature review and interview-based survey (along with collecting our own field data) to better understand the impact of fisheries on coastal sharks and rays. While this process is ongoing, we have produced a provisional report summarizing these results. This was used as the scientific basis for the film Shiver which has been widely used in Mozambique to build awareness of the importance and use of sharks in local economies.
Shortly after arriving in Mozambique, our senior researchers had a wonderful surprise when a massive stingray cruised past them in midwater. Despite their considerable knowledge on ray species, neither recognised this spotted giant. As it turned out, this lapse was acceptable: this was the first time the smalleye stingray (Dasyatis microps) had been seen in the Western Indian Ocean (a >5000 km range extension) and the first time live photographs of the species had been taken. These observations were published in Zootaxa in 2008. This new information and summary of our (poor) knowledge on the species became the basis for the first IUCN Red List assessment for this amazing ray.
Mobula, or devil rays, look a bit like mini-mantas. Sadly, these gorgeous, gregarious rays have been severely depleted by overfishing for their meat and gill rakers. Current MMF Research is focused on documenting abundance trends in these smaller cousins of the manta rays.