Slaughter of blacktip sharks found at Nicoya peninsula

Nick Hawkins photo via Programa
de Restauración de Tortugas Marinas
Some of the sharks that were killed and wasted.

A Canadian photographer found dozens of dead and butchered blacktip sharks on the Nicoya peninsula.

The photographer, who also is a biologist is Nick Hawkins. He estimated that there were 80 carcasses.

The site was on an island at Cabuya on the southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula. The location was on a small island just offshore near the Cabo Blanco reserve, according to the Programa de Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, an environmental group that brought the find to the notice of reporters.

The case is not one of simply shark finning. According to Hawkins, there were some sharks dressed out as if they would be used for food.

He said in an email: “Many were just heads, some were entire bodies, just killed and discarded, and some of the full bodies had been cleaned, with all organs removed but discarded intact. There were a number of full bodies that looked like they had fins removed.

“It is really hard to say what the motive was. I would say they were after both meat and fins but that doesn’t explain why some were discarded whole. All were certainly killed by fisherman.”

The majority of the sharks were small in size, which could indicate that this site is an important breeding area for this species, where juveniles feed before they move to the high seas, said the Programa in its report.

Hawkins said there were other dead sharks scattered in the area. He made the discovery March 3, said the Programa.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. There are almost 30 commercial shark species in the Pacific of Costa Rica and these are caught for the high value of their fins but also for national meat consumption, especially the young individuals that haven’t reproduced yet, as in this case,” said Randall Arauz of the Programa. “One more time, this encounter shows the great fishing pressures on sharks and the urgent need to expand and create marine protected areas in coastal zones where the shark feed during juvenile stages”, concluded Arauz.

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