Taking the plunge - sharks, rays and chimeras given first EDGE ranks

by ZSL on

This December, ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme will release their first list of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) Chondrichthyes, the EDGE Sharks and Rays list, launching a new era of targeted conservation action for these remarkable species. 

The sharks, rays and chimeras (cartilaginous fish within the Class Chondrichthyes) are one of the oldest groups of species that have inhabited the planet. Many members of this group swam in the ocean while dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Some of the modern sharks, rays and chimeras on the EDGE list represent particularly large amounts of unique evolutionary history; many have unusual and striking morphology, behaviours and genetic make-up. 

A whale shark swimming above a shoal of fish

Many of these species’ populations are declining at an alarming pace worldwide, with the most evolutionarily distinct shark and ray species also tending to be the most threatened ones. 
Although conservation attention to this group has improved over the past decade, and the common negative perception of sharks and their relatives is slowly changing, many of the most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered sharks and rays are still overlooked – until now.

For the very first time the Chondrichthyes will now receive conservation attention through the EDGE of Existence programme. The EDGE of Existence programme uses a scientific framework to identify and prioritise species based on the amount of unique evolutionary history they represent and their conservation status. This new EDGE Sharks and Rays list comprises the most Evolutionarily Distinct species, not only of sharks and rays, but of all jawed vertebrates. 

Electric ray sitting on a sandy seabed

The 50 species with the highest EDGE scores will be featured on the programme’s website. The full list will be used to inform the on-the-ground (and in-the-sea) conservation actions supported by the EDGE of Existence programme. This new list will help secure the future of these species by informing the selection of upcoming conservation leaders (EDGE Fellows) and by fostering and promoting collaborations with our national and international partners.

To find out which amazing and unique sharks and rays are on the top 50 of our EDGE Sharks and Ray List, join us on December 4th when we will host a web-based launch event. More details on how to join can be found below.

Join the EDGE Sharks and Rays launch

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