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Tracking Sharks Through DNA: Scientists Discover New Non-Invasive Method to Monitor Sharks

Source: Phys.org/University of Salford - December 6, 2017 in Science/Tech

Tracking Sharks Through DNA: Scientists Discover New Non-Invasive Method to Monitor Sharks
Photo: Jakob Owens/Unsplash

Marine ecologists have shown that traces of DNA in the sea can be used to monitor shark populations.

Current methods of baiting, hooking and filming sharks, rays and other large fish are invasive and costly and require teams of scientists spending much time at sea.

Now, a U.K. study, published today in Scientific Reports, has shown it is possible to monitor these  via environmental DNA (eDNA), whereby a sample of seawater can provide the identifiable ‘tracks’ of numerous  of shark.

“Water contains minute fragments of the skin, excretions, blood of animals that have swum through there,” explains Stefano Mariani, professor of conservation genetics at the University of Salford.

“It’s just like when detectives do a forensic search of a crime scene, and can locate tissues and cells that contain the DNA of the suspects”

Almost half of all known  are classified as ‘data deficient,” in part, because of the expense and complexity of finding the animals in the first place.

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