One of the sharks born at Palma Aquarium.

Fifteen sharks of the alitan species have been born as part of the Acció Stellaris project to increase the population in Balearic waters.

The project, a captive breeding one, began in January. The intention is to release small sharks into nature, the 15 alitans having been bred in a controlled artificial environment at Palma Aquarium and the Cabrera National Park's visitor centre. With an increase in the population, the conservation of the species will improve.

Dissemination of information and awareness of the importance of the role that these species play in marine ecosystems have a part in the project. For this reason, the fishing sector is involved and various environmental education actions are planned.

This project will have a minimum duration of three years and the long-term purpose is to replicate the initiative with other threatened species of sharks and rays in the Balearics.

The alitan is a species of coralline shark. It is found at depths of between forty and eighty metres and is present in Balearic waters, especially in the Cabrera park, Formentera and the Minorca Channel.

It used to be an abundant species but is now listed as being in danger of extinction; it cannot be fished in marine reserves in the Balearics. It is one of the elasmobranch class of fish. There are 56 species registered in the Balearics. Thirty-four of these are threatened, and seventeen of these 34 are critically endangered or have become extinct at regional level.

The Acció Stellaris project involves the regional ministries of the environment and agriculture, fisheries and food as well as the Mallorca Preservation Foundation, the Palma Aquarium Foundation, Small Mediterranean Islands, the Save The Med Foundation, the Marilles Foundation and Shark Med.