SOURCE: Science Alert

DATE: December 15, 2018

SNIP: Shark populations off the east coast of Australia have been declining over the past 55 years with little sign of recovery, according to research published in the journal Communications Biology.

Coastal shark numbers are continuing a 50-year decline, contradicting popular theories of exploding shark populations, according to an analysis of Queensland Shark Control Program data.

We were surprised at how rapid these declines were, especially in the early years of the shark control program. We had to use specialist statistical methods to properly estimate the declines, because they occurred so quickly,” says Chris Brown from Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute.

“Sharks are an important part of Australia’s identity. They are also survivors that have been around for hundreds of millions of years, surviving through the extinction of dinosaurs,” he says.

“Sharks play important roles in ecosystems as scavengers and predators, and they are indicators of healthy ecosystems. These declines are concerning because they suggest the health of coastal ecosystems is also declining.”