A scientific mission to save the sharks
A scientific mission to save the sharks

Enlarge (credit: RamonCarretero/Getty)

A hammerhead shark less than one meter long swims frantically in a plastic container aboard a boat in the Sanquianga National Natural Park, off Colombia’s Pacific coast. It is a delicate female Sphyrna corona, the world’s smallest hammerhead species, and goes by the local name cornuda amarilla—yellow hammerhead—because of the color of its fins and the edges of its splendid curved head, which is full of sensors to perceive the movement of its prey.

Marine biologist Diego Cardeñosa of Florida International University, along with local fishermen, has just captured the shark and implanted it with an acoustic marker before quickly returning it to the murky waters. A series of receivers will help to track its movements for a year, to map the coordinates of its habitat—valuable information for its protection.

That hammerhead is far from the only shark species that keeps the Colombian biologist busy. Cardeñosa’s mission is to build scientific knowledge to support shark conservation, either by locating the areas where the creatures live or by identifying, with genetic tests, the species that are traded in the world’s main shark markets.

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