The Mediterranean is home to a spectacular diversity of marine life; however, it is also witnessing worryingly depleted stocks of certain species. These include the Scyliorhinus stellaris nursehound shark, classified as “Endangered” in the Balearic Islands Red Book of Fish. In response to this situation, June 2021 saw the launch of a project that has brought a glimmer of hope for this species: the main objective of the “Petits Taurons – Acció Stellaris” project is to tackle the dramatic situation of nursehound sharks in the Mediterranean and boost stocks by means of breeding in a controlled artificial environment at the Palma Aquarium, LIMIA and the Cabrera Interpretation Centre and later release into their natural habitat, the Balearic Sea.
A new opportunity for nursehound sharks
On Wednesday, 4th October, a new chapter was written in the project for the conservation of this species in the waters that bathe the municipality of El Toro on Mallorca, with the release of 16 Scyliorhinus stellaris nursehound sharks into the sea. Eleven people, most of them experts in the field, were present at the release, representing the partner entities that make up this project alliance Palma Aquarium Foundation, Save the Med, Shark Med, Mallorca Preservation Fund, Iniciativa Pequeñas Islas Mediterráneas, Consejería de Agricultura, Pesca y Medio Natural y el Parque nacional marítimo-terrestre del archipiélago de Cabrera. The release was also attended by a representative from Calvià Town Council and received the collaboration of Port Adriano and Mar Balear.
This release is the second phase in the ongoing efforts to boost stocks of these sharks in our waters. The initial step in this direction occurred in late March, 2023 with the release of the first 16 nursehound sharks in the Cabrera marine reserve
Major efforts channelled into this project
One of the highlights of this project came in September 2021, when the first eleven shark offspring were born in a controlled artificial environment. Since then, the work carried out by the “Petits Taurons – Acció Stellaris” team has resulted in the birth of around 208 offspring in three breeding centres. In addition, 160 eggs at various stages of incubation are being closely monitored.
Working together in favour of conservation
This conservation project has been possible thanks to an alliance of eight partners with a strong commitment to the projection of the species. They include Fundación Palma Aquarium, Save the Med, Shark Med, Mallorca Preservation Fund, Petites Illes del Mediterrani , Marilles Foundation, Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and the Environment y el Consejería de Agricultura, Pesca y Medio Natural Cabrera Maritime-Terrestrial National Park. También cuenta con la colaboración de Balearia, el Calvià Town Council y las cofradías de pescadores de Formentera y Cala Ratjada.
A promising future for the nursehound shark
The Cabrera Maritime-Terrestrial National Park plans to introduce a further 50 specimens in the near future. These actions reflect the evolution of this initiative and are a major boost for the ongoing commitment shown by the “Petits Taurons – Acció Stellaris” project.