Photo: The most sharks Global Finprint has captured in a single image was 12 gray reef sharks along Jarvis Reef in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: Global FinPrint Before you go to the beach this summer, you may want to check where the sharks are hiding: In the largest survey of sharks around the world, scientists have visited 100 reefs and collected more than 5,000 hours of underwater footage, revealing the locations with the most sharks - and where they're scarce.
These preliminary results suggest that some spots are teeming with the ocean predators, while other heavily fished areas of the ocean have little or no sign of the marine animals.
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For this huge undertaking, known as the Global FinPrint, researchers are using baited remote underwater video (BRUV) equipment to capture images of sharks and other animals as they pass by. By the end of the three-year project, which began last year, the researchers hope to have cataloged sharks and rays around 400 reefs. [In Photos: Underwater Cameras Capture World's Sharks]
Nearly a quarter of the more than 500 species of sharks swimming in the world's oceans are threatened with extinction,according to the Smithsonian. Data collected from this census could help scientists and policymakers better protect at-risk shark populations, the researchers say.
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At least 30 species of sharks and rays have been observed in the first 100 reefs, according to FinPrint lead scientist Demian Chapman, an associate professor of marine sciences at Florida International University (FIU).
"Our international team has deployed more than 5,000 BRUVs and collected more than 5,000 hours of footage," Chapman said in an emailed statement.
In some locations, sharks and rays were so common that the researchers started a competition on Twitter, using the hashtag #BRUVbattle, for the most sharks in a single screenshot. The team from Australia currently holds the record, with 12 gray reef sharks caught on camera along Jarvis Reef in the Pacific Ocean.
WATCH VIDEO: "Global FinPrint Begins"