Researchers have found a new breeding ground for hammerhead sharks off the coast of Ecuador's Galapagos archipelago.
The head of the team of researchers, Eduardo Espinosa, said the natural refuge off the island of Santa Cruz is home to about 20 of the sharks. The team managed to attach monitors to five of them.
"That site, where the babies spent two or three years, is important not only for the Galapagos but on a world scale, because it gives hope for the protection and conservation of a species,'' Espinosa said.
The team hopes to monitor the sharks in an effort to protect both the predators and their environment.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature considers the hammerhead shark an endangered species. They are not particularly fertile reproducers, and combined with a demand for their fins in Asia, the species is vulnerable.
Marine biologist Alex Hearn of San Francisco University in Quito said researchers believed that the hammerheads gave birth along continental coasts, so the discovery of the island nursery opens new lines of study.