Shark expert and freediver joins IUCN’s ocean conservation mission

20 December 2013 | Video

Despite the high profile media attention sharks receive, relatively little is known about their biology. Of those shark species that have been assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, nearly half are listed as Data Deficient, which means that we do not have enough information to assess their conservation status.

Up to 73 million sharks are killed for their fins each year, and many more are caught as bycatch by fishing operations that target other more valuable fish species. Sharks are also targeted for sports-fishing, commercial trophy-hunting and sporadic human consumption. Implementing protection measures for sharks such as fishing exclusion zones and enforcement is extremely difficult due to the huge distances they cover.

William Winram, a free-diver, expert in shark behaviour and IUCN’s new Ocean Ambassador, supports scientists by tagging, photographing, filming and taking tissue samples of various species of shark. Through The Watermen Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, William is exploring how breath-hold diving can help the management, protection and scientific research of Marine Protected Areas.

IUCN looks forward to working with William and highlighting the need for stronger protection measures for sharks, other threatened marine species and the oceans more generally.