Project

Shark Share Global

Species
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2015, 2016
Status
  • Active
Project type
  • Conservation
Description

Many scientists rely on tissue samples to do their work, but getting hold of them is time-consuming and expensive. With Shark Share Global, researchers will have access to an online database of samples from sharks and rays around the world.

Shark Share Global

Madeline Green

Project leader
About the project leader
Madi I am without a doubt a shark nerd. It all started one morning when I was about 10. I was watching a documentary about the Pacific Ocean and a small segment of it featured sharks. I can’t even remember the commentary, but I turned to my father and said, ‘Dad, I’m going to study sharks when I get older.’ My father laughed and probably thought it was a phase. It wasn’t though, and as the years passed I slowly found myself obsessed with the idea of becoming a marine biologist and dedicating my life to understanding sharks and rays. I...
Shark Share Global

Lauren Meyer

Project leader
About the project leader
In short, I am a young American marine scientist working with white sharks in South Australia. Although I grew up in the inland of north-western USA, I became fascinated by the ocean and its creatures and, as I became older, would watch every marine series on television and gawk at the alien organisms in the aquarium, especially the sharks. I’ve been captivated by them ever since.I spent several years studying general biology in Los Angeles before I decided to dive in headfirst and move across the world to Australia to pursue my life-long dream of being a marine scientist. Initially I...
PROJECT LOCATION : Worldwide
Project details

The establishment of Shark Share Global, an online elasmobranch tissue database

Key objective

The overall aim of this project is to (1) increase the efficiency of global shark sampling and research by maximising the use of tissue samples, and (2) help foster meaningful collaborations between scientists allowing for the expansion of projects to a global scale.

Why is this important

To adequately conserve and manage species, basic biological demographics are required. Such information can be obtained through scientific observation, and non-invasive and invasive sampling techniques. Considering that almost half of the known elasmobranch species are defined as Data Deficient by the IUCN and another 30% are considered Threatened or Near Threatened, efficient sampling and research of these species is paramount, including maximising sample utilisation where possible.

Additionally, research is a costly process, further complicated by investigation of rare, critically endangered species. Commonly, whole animal samples are taken and subsequently under-utilised, as lab groups may not have expertise in different elasmobranch research fields. This means important opportunities are being missed. Shark Share Global aims to address these issues.

Background

Elasmobranch research seeks to overcome tremendous knowledge gaps in fields ranging from basic life history characterisation, habitat utilisation, conservation risks, population connectivity, and individual and population genetics to physiology, toxin accumulation and basic morphology. However, such efforts are curtailed by limited budgets, limited geographic scope and sample availability. It has become clear that ‘communication, collaboration and efficient use of samples will become crucial components of successful shark research’, as explained by Michelle Heupel and Colin Simpfendorfer (2010).

Shark Share Global was started with two goals in mind: (1) to increase the efficiency of shark and ray sampling, and (2) to foster meaningful international collaborations between researchers. We propose the simple idea of establishing an online database that facilitates researchers informing the wider scientific community of tissues available for research use. The Shark Share database offers a unique opportunity to revolutionise elasmobranch sampling and collaborative efforts by moving to an online platform that is available globally.

Aims & objectives
    • Facilitate sample sharing thereby reducing the number of under-utilised samples and the associated sampling costs.
    • Foster meaningful global collaborations among researchers in different fields in order to obtain much-needed biological demographics for conservation purposes.

Financing from the SOSF will go directly towards the creation of the Shark Share Global database. This will be achieved by working with database consultants based in Brisbane, Australia.