Location: Sicilian Channel
Duration/Timing: 15th May – 15th June 2022 (2-3 Weeks)
Necessary Equipment: Ideally a motor yacht 100ft+, agile tenders for eDNA sampling and BRUV deployments, deck space for handling sampling equipment, filming and tagging, refrigerated space for storing barrels of tuna and dolphin bait.
An unprecedented expedition to detect, film, and tag white sharks in the Mediterranean Sea. This is one of the most endangered and least understood white shark populations in the world, and the expedition will collect important data to study these sharks and avoid their extinction in the region.
Of all shark populations, Mediterranean white sharks are the least studied and are potentially the most endangered. Centuries of coastal and, more recently, industrial fishing have severely impacted this population, which has declined to very low levels of abundance in the last few decades. The IUCN currently lists this species as Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean Sea. White sharks were historically abundant and widely distributed in the region, but information about their current abundance and ecology is lacking, which hinders conservation efforts.
Using a highly integrated survey approach that leverages cutting-edge marine technology for animal detection, advanced statistical modelling and information crowdsourced from local communities, this project will survey and start tracking these animals in the field. This project can yield groundbreaking results with global significance, and will serve as a model for future work studying elusive and endangered shark populations.
Francesco Ferretti is a quantitative and computational marine ecologist specialised in research synthesis. His scientific work is on marine conservation, fishery sciences, population dynamics, and quantitative ecology with a special interest in sharks and rays. He combines ecology, statistical modeling, and data science to approach questions on animal abundance and distribution, species interactions, large marine predators, top-down control, structure and function of large marine ecosystems. This project has funding from Beneath the Waves Foundation and Discovery Channel.