Social media: a valuable tool to inform shark conservation in Greece

Published: Aug 31, 2020
Citizen science fisheries interactions eastern Mediterranean Sea species conservation.

Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea are facing an elevated risk of extinction; several species are considered endangered and some
have been reduced to such low population numbers that they are hard to detect through conventional monitoring methods. The recent
emergence of new technologies, such as social media, makes it easier to collect and transmit information that may contribute
to the conservation of endangered species. From 2017 – 2019 we carried out a project in Greece that searched social media (i.e.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) postings with the aim of collecting data on the occurrence and basic biological parameters of
sharks in the country and their interactions with fisheries. We recorded 116 social media postings referring to sharks in Greece, of
which, 100 were identified to the lowest taxonomic level; sixty four percent of these postings referred to threatened sharks, while
the majority of them referred to species that had not been evaluated for the Greek Red Data Book. Sharks occurred throughout
the country, were often involved in negative fishery interactions and were rarely reported to have been released back to the sea.
Endangered sharks were often misidentified as commercially valuable species. Our study highlights the importance of social media
as a valuable tool in collecting baseline information, while identifying and/or focusing on important conservation issues about
sharks in Greece.

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