Colin Simpfendorfer raised the curtains on our new Science in the S.E.A.A. speaker series with an inspiring presentation on how science can help save sharks.
A highly regarded shark scientist, Professor Simpfendorfer is also the Co-Chair of the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Shark Specialist Group. About 80 attendees came down to the aquarium last Saturday evening to learn about the intriguing findings from his many shark and ray research expeditions.
Professor Simpfendorfer was so fascinated by the ocean that by age nine, he had decided to be a marine biologist.
Based on his more than 25 years of research, Professor Simpfendorfer said that fishing (including bycatch) is the leading cause of dwindling shark populations.
The inquisitive audience, including our own aquarist and docents, asked Professor Simpfendorfer many questions ranging from shark biology to conservation.
After learning that rays and sharks are from the same group, the Elasmobranchii, a member of the audience asked Professor Simpfendorfer what he thought of rays being commonly consumed in this region. Surprisingly, he said that more rays were threatened than sharks. He added that most rays consumed locally are likely from unsustainable sources, hence it may be a good idea to rethink our consumption habits.
Professor Simpfendorfer generously shared his knowledge and experience with the many tertiary students who attended.
Professor Simpfendorfer with Jim Hudson, Senior Manager of Conservation at S.E.A. Aquarium.
After the talk, the audience got to chat with our aquarist Izzat who takes care of sharks at the aquarium. Izzat also showcased some of the special gear aquarists use when feeding sharks underwater, such as the chainmail suit.
Taking a closer look at real shark teeth on display. These teeth were naturally shed by the sharks and picked up by our aquarists when cleaning the Shark Seas habitat.
The S.E.A. Aquarium team with Professor Simpfendorfer and Professor Neil Hutchinson (top row, middle) who is also from James Cook University, and a regular speaker at Guardians of the S.E.A.A. events.
We’d like to thank everyone who attended and for making our first Science in the S.E.A.A. event a success. Next up in May, sea turtle specialist and Co-Vice Chair of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group
Associate Professor Mark Hamann will be here to share his research findings.
Meanwhile, come join us at our first Guardians of the S.E.A.A. movie night in March. Details to be released soon.