Grey Nurse Sharks Discovered in the NT

Press/Media: Research

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https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-06/grey-nurse-shark-population-discovered-nt-tiwi-conocophillips/10978352

Macquarie University's Associate Professor Adam Stow, from the Department of Biology, has been researching the grey nurse shark.

"The numbers have declined rapidly over the last couple of decades and the number of breeding individuals and the genetic variation [left] really don't look good for the future persistence of the species," Dr Stow said.

Dr Stow wears a white lab coat and is pictured through a shark's jawbones

Dr Adam Stow believes the new grey nurse sharks could be critical to the species' future.(Supplied: Joanne Stephan)

'Fascinating news'

It is for that very reason that the discovery of a Northern Territory population is being seen as so significant.

Dr Stow believes the new grey nurse sharks could be critical to the species' future and that attracting funding to carry out genetic tests would be the essential next steps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"To get a phone call and be told that the sharks have been located off the Northern Territory was fascinating news," Dr Stow said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I think it would be great if we could obtain some genetic samples from these populations and then what we can do is we can link it up with the genetic data set that we have.

"It would also enable us to evaluate to measure the level of genetic variation that's present in those animals and get an indication of whether they're suffering a similar fate to the critically endangered east Australian Grey Nurse sharks that have very low levels of genetic variation," Dr Stow said.

As it stands, the East Coast population of grey nurse sharks has fared so badly because it's highly vulnerable to overfishing, and it has a very slow breeding cycle, at just two pups every second year.

The West Coast population is healthier, but is still listed as vulnerable.

"Just a few individuals per year can have a significant effect on the long term survival of this shark and that was supported by the modelling that we carried out," Dr Stow said.

Period6 Apr 2019