French Polynesia is a model for shark conservation as the world’s largest shark sanctuary
Dr. Aaron Wirsing from the University of Washington has been studying sharks on Tetiaroa since 2014 thanks to support from Tetiaroa Society and the Seeley Family. This long-term shark monitoring project has been ideal for contributing to FinPrint - a global collaborative of shark experts sharing data to determine the status of sharks in coastal habitats which has to date covered 371 reefs in 58 countries.
For the first time ever, scientists reported on the conservation status of reef shark populations worldwide in a new study in Nature. Sadly, due to a long history of human exploitation reef sharks are now rare or absent altogether in places that used to be prime habitat.
Yet, there is hope, and a path forward for recovery through marine protected areas.
According to Dr. Wirsing, "One approach is to set aside large areas in the ocean as preserves where suitable habitat can be protected, like French Polynesia which is essentially the world's largest shark sanctuary".