Sharks and fishes that inhabit waters deeper than 150 m (500 feet) are among the least-studied species in the world’s oceans, and deep-sea fisheries often become established in these depths before any research can be conducted on the biology and ecology of the targeted animals. This is especially problematic for deep-sea species because they tend to be slower-growing and reproduce later than their coastal counterparts, and are therefore less able to recover from overfishing. Shark species are especially vulnerable, as they often have very low productivity: for example, some gulper sharks produce only a single pup per reproductive cycle.
We are currently conducting research on the deep-sea fishes, sharks, and the fisheries in the Meso-American Region (MAR) to learn more about which species inhabit this region, how they are distributed, and how their populations might respond to increasing fishing effort. Working with local fishers, we are conducting some of the first research on these species in the MAR. We hope to learn which species might be the most vulnerable to over exploitation and identify critical habitats that need protection. Along the way we are also filling in our knowledge on the deep-sea ecosystem, expanding known ranges for species, and even potentially finding new species!