Largest global shark biomass found in the northern Galápagos Islands of Darwin and Wolf

Pelayo Salinas De León, David Acuña-Marrero, Etienne Rastoin, Alan M. Friedlander, Mary K. Donovan, Enric Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Overfishing has dramatically depleted sharks and other large predatory fishes worldwide except for a few remote and/or well-protected areas. The islands of Darwin and Wolf in the far north of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) are known for their large shark abundance, making them a global scuba diving and conservation hotspot. Here we report quantitative estimates of fish abundance at Darwin and Wolf over two consecutive years using stereo-video surveys, which reveal the largest reef fish biomass ever reported (17.5 t ha-1 on average), consisting largely of sharks. Despite this, the abundance of reef fishes around the GMR, such as groupers, has been severely reduced because of unsustainable fishing practices. Although Darwin and Wolf are within the GMR, they were not fully protected from fishing until March 2016. Given the ecological value and the economic importance of Darwin and Wolf for the dive tourism industry, the current protection should ensure the long-term conservation of this hotspot of unique global value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1911
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomass
  • Conservation
  • Darwin
  • Eastern Tropical Pacific
  • Fish
  • Galapagos
  • Marine protected areas
  • Marine reserves
  • Pelagics
  • Sharks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Largest global shark biomass found in the northern Galápagos Islands of Darwin and Wolf'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this