During a recent scuba trip with Avalon Diving Center, the Cuba Journal ran into several Cuban research scientists conducting research by tagging sharks in the Jardines de la Reina area of Cuba.
We asked the researchers to take along our camera and shoot some of the action for us. Here’s what we got back.
Shark tagging does not cause pain to the sharks. Research shows that the sensory receptors (known as nociceptors) responsible for feeling pain in humans and other mammals are not present in the sharks studied to date. The tags were attached to shark fins, which have no nerve supply. According to research, the type of response to injury that sharks exhibit is unconscious reaction or reflexes, not pain-induced response.
If done properly, there is no permanent damage to the sharks during capture with longlines and during tagging and immediate release. Tags mounted to fins may cause fin irritation, drag or even result in fin damage. There is no evidence to date suggesting that tagging will impact shark survival. In fact, most sharks survive with severely deformed or damaged fins as a result of fighting – and in some cases mating, where males bite females on the fins to enable mating. Sharks are also well-known for their remarkable capacity to heal, and shark fins, like fingernails, can regenerate.
Cuba’s Coastal Ecosystems Research Center (Centro de Investigaciones de Ecosistemas Costeros) is one of the main centers for the development of sustainable tourism, dedicated to conducting basic and applied research related to the natural sciences and socio-economic development of the territories in coastal, terrestrial, marine and others with high ecological sensitivity.
Special thanks to Yunier Olivera (MSc. marine biologist) and Dayli Lldo (Bsc. marine biologist). The two researches work under the direction of Fabian Pina Amargos (PhD).