Results of the survey are likely to be made available in 2018.
Paul Allen Donates $4m to Shark Research
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen will put $4m towards the funding of the world's largest shark and ray survey
The Global FinPrint initiative will survey sharks, rays and other marine life in more than 400 locations over the course of three years and hopes to collect essential data on the relationship between shark and ray populations and coral reefs.
Allen's interest in the project comes after his successful engagement in the Great Elephant Census which has surveyed elephants and other large herbivores in 13 countries since 2014.
'I've seen the impact of @ElephantCount, now I'm supporting @GlobalFinPrint to help #Save Sharks', he tweeted earlier this week.
'Global FinPrint will help us better understand one of the ocean’s great mysteries: What is happening with fragile marine ecosystems when sharks are removed?' survey leader Dr Demian Chapman of Stony Brook University said in a statement. 'Are coral reefs healthier or faster to recover from disturbances like coral bleaching or hurricanes because they have sharks? These are hugely important questions. Many countries rely on healthy coral reefs for food security, tourism and coastal protection.'
The project team will use the latest technology to close gaps in existing research. BRUVs (baited remote underwater video stations) are to be deployed in shark population hot spots, such as the Indo-Pacific.