EDGE is getting into deep…and shallow waters this Christmas!
Today, ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme releases their first list of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) Chondrichthyes, the EDGE Sharks and Rays list, launching a new era of targeted conservation action for these remarkable species.
The sharks, rays and chimeras (cartilaginous fish within the Class Chondrichthyes) are one of the oldest groups of species that have inhabited the planet. Many members of this group swam in the ocean while dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Some of the modern sharks, rays and chimeras on the EDGE list represent particularly large amounts of unique evolutionary history; many have unusual and striking morphology, behaviours and genetic make-up.
Sadly, this wealth of uniqueness is highly threatened by unsustainable fisheries, as well as by the degradation of marine ecosystems – particularly coastal areas. Many of these species’ populations are declining at an alarming pace, with the most evolutionarily distinct shark and ray species also tending to be the most threatened ones. This highlights the urgency of implementing conservation actions to improve the status of these irreplaceable species.
Although conservation attention to this group has improved over the past decade, and the common negative perception of sharks and their relatives is slowly changing, many of the most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered sharks and rays are still overlooked – until now.
From amazing sawfishes achieving 7 meters in length to the amazingly unique Angel shark, encompassing the largest of all freshwater stingrays, an endemic shark only known by three specimens caught as recent as 2006, the loved whale shark and the unjustly vilified Great White Shark, the top 50 EDGE Sharks and Rays list includes some very unique species.
And as a new year marks new beginning, 2019 will see two Fellows in Asia working for the conservation of the Largetooth Sawfish and the Pelagic Thresher shark. Browse through the Sharks and Rays webpage and learn more about all these weird and wonderful fishes.