Aegean bay welcomes parent-to-be sand sharks

Aegean bay welcomes parent-to-be sand sharks

Musa Kesler - ISTANBUL
Aegean bay welcomes parent-to-be sand sharks

Sand sharks that visit Boncuk Bay at the beginning of the summer every year, which was taken under protection only for them in the Aegean district of Marmaris, have flocked to the bay to breed, repeating a yearly routine.

Hürriyet daily visited Boncuk Bay as part of the World Environment Day and followed the works conducted underwater for sand sharks that are listed as vulnerable due to overfishing as a species native to the Atlantic Ocean and the Indo-Pacific.

The bay in the touristic Marmaris district of the southwestern Muğla province was declared as a protection zone by the Directorate General for Preservation of Natural Heritage after it was found that it is the sole established nursery ground of the sand-bar sharks in the Mediterranean.

The sandbar shark is one of the biggest coastal sharks in the world and it has a similar appearance to other dangerous sharks such as bull sharks, however, it is considered not to be dangerous to people.

The size of the sand shark can be up to two and a half meters and it preys on fish, rays, and crabs, according to the report.

The sand shark can live more than 20 years and this period is considered to be “long” for sharks, but their fertility rate is low, and they are under hunting pressure, it says.

Mehmet Ali Kahraman, the general manager of Conservation of Natural Assets, underlines the importance they attach to the protection of sharks.

Not only sharks, but also Mediterranean seals, stingrays and other rare species are under the control of the ministry, according to Kahraman.

In the Gulf of Gökova, which houses tens of bays such as the Boncuk Bay and where more than 200 coastal fishermen operate, six areas have been declared closed to the fishery in 2010 in order to recover the reduced fish stocks and to protect sensitive spawning areas.

The Marine Ranger Service System was developed with the idea that the protection activities in the areas should be increased and the responsible institutions should be supported in this respect.

The ranger boats with cameras and other technological equipment started to work in 2013.

The Mediterranean Conservation Society has been conducting a project in the Gulf of Gökova to monitor and protect species including the sandbar shark and the Mediterranean Monk Seal as well.

The organization is working on many topics, from the protection of marine creatures to illegal fishing and marine pollution.

The society, which has a respected place in the international arena, has completed many projects with the support of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.

The team consisting of 17 people, led by Zafer Kızılkaya, includes biologists, zoologists and seafood experts.