When we think of sharks and rays, our minds tend to focus on a few large and charismatic animals like great whites, manta rays, and whale sharks.  And while these species certainly deserve a central place in our psyche due to their size and magnificence, the biodiversity of this whole group of animals is truly wondrous and expansive.  Australia is home to 322 species of sharks and rays, over half (179) of which are found nowhere else on Earth, and the vast majority are small, cryptic, and not very well known. HSI and our Shark Champions partner, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, have released a new video to highlight a few of these lesser-known species in an effort to bring them to the public’s attention. 


Check out the video to find out more about a few of the endemic species imperiled by commercial fishing that we’re fighting to protect. 


Shark Champions is a multi-year campaign from HSI and AMCS, funded and supported by the Shark Conservation Fund. One primary goal for Shark Champions is to promote the conservation of Australia’s endemic sharks and rays. 


To help achieve our conservation goals, we have formally nominated a number of these lesser-known species for protection under the EPBC act and will continue to work for changes in Australian fisheries to preserve these fascinating creatures.  


Sydney skate (Dentiraja australis) 



From an ancient lineage related to rays, the Sydney skate is endemic to the inner continental shelf and upper slope of the east coast of Australia, from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales.  The predominant threat to the Sydney skate is demersal trawl fisheries, and population declines have led to an IUCN Redlist listing of Vulnerable. 


Eastern angelshark (Squatina albipunctata) 



The eastern angelshark (Squatina albipunctata) is a flat, demersal, ambush hunter camouflaged to match sandy substrate where it patiently awaits its prey.  Inhabiting the eastern continental shelf of Australia, commercial bycatch and overexploitation has resulted in an IUCN Redlist listing as Vulnerable. 


Whitefin Swellshark (Cephaloscyllium albipinnum) 



The Critically Endangered whitefin swellshark is also only found in Australian waters. Swell sharks are named for their ability to greatly expand their belly by swallowing water or air when threatened or caught.  Like the skates above, the whitefin swellshark is a common bycatch species in the trawl fisheries of southeastern Australia, and intensive demersal trawling has led to significant declines in the abundance of this species of approximately 75% from 1994 to 2006.   


Green-eye spurdog (Squalus chloroculus) 




A deepwater, demersal shark, the green-eye spurdog (Squalus chloroculus) – so called for it’s green fluorescent iris, inhabits the upper continental slopes of southern and south eastern Australia. Threatened as bycatch and byproduct in commercial fishing, the green-eye spurdog has been IUCN listed as Endangered. 


If you’re keen to help these incredible Aussie Battlers, and more like them, sign up to be a Shark Champion at www.sharkchampions.org.au, and give a voice to those that don’t have one. 

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