Searching for school shark pups in South Australia

20th July 2016

Matt McMillan is a PhD candidate working on school shark (Galeorhinus galeus) at the University of Adelaide. He needs your help to find school shark pupping grounds that may exist in South Australian waters.

School shark numbers declined in the 1990s and conservative total allowable catches (TACs) have been set to help them recover. School shark are no longer targeted by commercial fishers and are only caught incidentally while targeting gummy shark and other species. Anecdotal evidence suggests that school shark numbers are on the increase and their abundance is currently underestimated. However, before TACs can be raised science must support and increase in the school shark stock.

School shark are ovoviviparous meaning that they lay eggs which are hatched within the body of the parent. A lot of research has been done on the pupping grounds in Victoria and Tasmania but calculations have shown that the number of pups produced in these sites are too low to sustain the whole stock.

Matt’s hypothesis is that school shark may also be pupping in South Australia, and not just in Tasmania and Victoria. To test this theory, Matt plans to deploy underwater cameras at locations that school shark may use as nursery areas. He is calling on commercial fishers with knowledge and experience about school shark movements and behaviours to help him find locations in South Australia where sub 40 cm school shark have been caught.

Matt’s work will help address an important knowledge gap that the Commonwealth school shark stock rebuilding strategy (2008) acknowledges. Doing so could have strong benefits for the management of school shark.

If you have any information about school shark pupping grounds in South Australian waters or know someone who does call Matt on 0405-024344 or matthew.mcmillan@adelaide.edu.au .