Philanthropist Paul G. Allen has announced that he will help fund the GlobalFinPrint initiative, the first-ever global survey of sharks, rays, and skates.
To collect data essential to building a better understanding of the ecological importance of sharks as apex predators, GlobalFinPrint will use baited remote underwater video (BRUVs) to survey sharks, rays, and other marine life in coral reef ecosystems in more than four hundred locations across three key geographic regions where data gaps exist: the Indo-Pacific, tropical western Atlantic, and southern and eastern Africa and Indian Ocean islands. With a grant of nearly $4 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the new data will be aggregated with thousands of hours of existing BRUV data to form a single dataset that will be mined to produce the first standardized global survey of shark, ray, and skates in coral reef environments. Allen's company, Vulcan Inc., will manage and provide technical assistance to the project.
"Global FinPrint will help us better understand one of the ocean's great mysteries: What is happening with fragile marine ecosystems when sharks are removed?" said Dr. Demian Chapman, a researcher from Stony Brook University who is leading a multi-institutional team. "Are coral reefs healthier or faster to recover from disturbances like coral bleaching or hurricanes because they have sharks? These are hugely important questions. Many countries rely on healthy coral reefs for food security, tourism, and coastal protection."