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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Scientists boost sharks image
Shark
Sharks have highly developed immune systems
Shark experts from round the world have converged on Cardiff for a special conference to develop ideas for eco-tourism.

The waters off Wales' coastline are home to a range of members of the shark family, from rays to dogfish and giant basking sharks.

Shark eye
Sharks have a negative image
Globally, though, hunting and the portrayal of sharks as dangerous have contributed to their decline.

One of the aims of the annual meeting will be to give a more positive and accurate image of sharks.

Eco-tourism is one initiative up for debate at the event, which was opened by Professor John Music from the United States.

Prof Music said: "It is a good chance for the public to learn more about sharks, which have been misrepresented over the years.

Prof Music
Prof Music:'Misunderstood creatures'
"But over the long run, we find out it is not sharks which are threatening humans, but the over way round because of over-fishing."

Colin Speedy of the Shark Trust said sharks knew no national boundaries, with many smaller varieties including skate and dogfish commonly found off the Welsh coast.

A 12-foot long thresher shark was caught in July off the Gower, Swansea, and was too heavy to weigh locally.

Intriguing habits

Warmer seas and higher tides attract schools of sharks closer to land.

The Cardiff event is being jointly held by the Countryside Council for Wales and the National Museums and Galleries of Wales.

Leading authorities on sharks will be mingling with amateur enthusiasts, enthralled with the intriguing habits of sharks, and those confronting their phobias of the creatures.

Topics of discussion during the weekend include the mysteries of the Great White sharks, eco-tourism and where do basking sharks go in winter.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Lowri Pugh
"Sharks have been given a bad press"
See also:

10 Sep 01 | Scotland
10 May 01 | Science/Nature
22 Feb 01 | Science/Nature
25 Feb 01 | Science/Nature
09 Feb 01 | Americas
Internet links:


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