"Pacific reef shark populations have plummeted by 90 percent or more over the past several decades, according to a new study by a team of American and Canadian researchers, and much of this decline stems from human fishing pressure.
Quantifying the decline for the first time, the analysis, published online Friday in the journal Conservation Biology, shows that shark populations fare worse the closer they are to people — even if the nearest population is an atoll with fewer than 100 residents.
The team of eight scientists examined the results of a decade of underwater surveys across 46 Pacific islands and atolls and found densities of reef sharks — gray, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, as well as Galapagos and tawny nurse sharks — 'increased substantially as human population decreased' and the productivity and temperature of the ocean increased.
'Our results suggest humans now exert a stronger influence on the abundance of reef sharks than either habitat quality or oceanographic factors,' the authors wrote."
Juliet Eilperin reports for the Washington Post April 27, 2012.