Science and research

Little is known about most of the biology and ecology of 26 elasmobranch species present in Welsh waters. There has been progress in understanding commercially targeted species, but the other 18 species are extremely data-limited, including 10 of which are listed on the Section 7 species list of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.

Without data on distribution, abundance, seasonality, life-history traits, and associated habitats, it is challenging to safeguard these species.

Data from fishers

Our fisher engagement programme hopes to collect a range of data on historical and current presence of elasmobranchs in Wales to better understand these species (find out more in working with fishers).

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Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUVs)

An array of benthic BRUVs are being deployed on the seafloor in summer 2022 to gather information on both fish and habitat assemblages within PLAS SAC. Alongside this, local charter fishers will be trained in deploying BRUVs, to see what species are present at their favourite marks. Footage will be analysed by scientists and citizen scientists through the Instant Wild platform.

Environmental DNA (eDNA)

We are taking regular water samples across the CBAE SAC to investigate the presence and seasonality of elasmobranchs in the region. eDNA samples will also be collected during each BRUV deployment in PLAS, to compare what is seen via video and via eDNA analysis.

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Dissection events

In collaboration with the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP), we are carrying out two Angelshark dissection events in Wales and Ireland to gather vital biological information on these Critically Endangered species.

Although it is extremely rare, strandings of dead Angelsharks can occur around the coast.
Post-mortem examination and analysis of samples generates vital data related to the cause of death, health of the individual (including disease and contamination), diet, reproductive patterns, population structure, as well as connectivity to other populations across the East Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.

We hope to live stream one of the events, so everyone will have the opportunity to be involved and learn more about the species – more information to follow soon.

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Research group

One of the Project SIARC aims is to enable new partnerships and collaborative research by bringing together elasmobranch scientists and NGOs across Wales. To do this, we are developing a Project SIARC Research Group, to meet quarterly, to share recent findings, expertise, experience and current research between organisations.

Let's talk

If you’re a researcher or organisation working on elasmobranchs in Wales, get in touch with us to find out more.

siarc@zsl.org
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Project SIARC is a multidisciplinary project working with fishers, citizen scientists, researchers, local communities and government to safeguard sharks, skates and rays and support a green recovery in Wales.

Get involved

There are a range of ways that you can get involved with Project SIARC from actively participating in events to aiding in historical research and inspiring future generations to engage with the marine environment.

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© 2022 – ZSL Zoological Society of London
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