Species composition, distribution, and relative abundance
Elasmobranchs are suffering from habitat loss and are declining at a rapid pace. They are listed as “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as there has not been enough research conducted on elasmobranchs. Contemporary and historical data are very limited. The worldwide decline of elasmobranchs is largely due to the Asian shark fin trade.
However, in the Dutch Caribbean, sharks do not get targeted for artisanal fisheries, but are mostly killed as bycatch. To conserve elasmobranch species, it is necessary to collect information related to their diversity, distribution, and abundance. Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) is used to study marine environments and their inhabitants; it has become the standard approach to learn about elasmobranchs in their representative habitats. BRUV deployments were done along the East coast and a part of the West coast of Bonaire.
From the videos, the maximum numbers of individuals (MaxN) were counted. Also, a citizen science project was undertaken and the presence or absence of elasmobranch species was noted. Data from the video footage and the citizen science project were collected and used to compare Bonaire’s shark and ray species compositions, distributions and abundances of the East coast with the West coast.