Project Leader

Thinh Dinh Do

Thinh Dinh Do

Who I am

I am a researcher at the Institute of Marine Environment and Resources in Vietnam. I’m a nature lover too, my passion for the ocean starting when I was a child. After high school I entered Vietnam National University, Hanoi, to study marine biology. My love for the ocean grew even bigger when, as an undergraduate, I watched the documentary series The Blue Planet, produced by the BBC and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Because of that, all my studies for my Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral degrees related to marine biology. In addition to academic degrees, I possess a diving licence and can do underwater work such as monitoring coral reefs. My research career is dedicated to marine biodiversity and conservation, and my ambition is to apply new technologies in genetics and genomics to this work. I am also building a team, which includes both experienced and younger researchers, to protect sharks and endangered species in Vietnam and its neighbouring countries.

Where I work

Characterised by unique oceanographic patterns and diverse marine habitats, the waters off central Vietnam are rich in marine biodiversity, particularly sharks. The upwelling phenomenon in the region stimulates the growth and reproduction of phytoplankton, which is an important food source for fish species. Also, these waters comprise diverse habitats such as coral reefs, sea-grass beds and mangrove forests. The abundant marine biodiversity makes this region a popular location for exploiting big fish such as sharks, rays and tunas in Vietnam. Through my work, I have experience of surveying the marine ecosystem in central Vietnam and I have been impressed by its high biodiversity and rich resources. However, overexploitation and destructive fishing still occur and have resulted in declines in marine biodiversity and resources. Although sharks are commonly harvested in the region, little is known about which species occur and whether they are threatened. The present project aims to investigate sharks that are caught in central Vietnam and its findings will provide insight into threatened species that will support the long-term conservation of sharks in the country.

What I do

There is an urgent need for the accurate identification of threatened species in fisheries in order to protect them from extinction. However, one of the hurdles to identifying sharks is the practice of shark finning, which makes it impossible to apply traditional identification methods such as morphological examination. In order to determine whether threatened sharks are among those being caught in central Vietnam, we will first visit the fishery landing sites and ports in this region to collect samples from sharks. The next step is to identify the species the samples come from and this is done based on morphological examination and molecular analysis. In the lab, we extract DNA from samples, then amplify the COI sequences with universal primers in PCR reaction. Having checked the quality of PCR products, we use them to generate barcode sequences, which are then analysed to determine the shark species. The analyses will be performed using computer programs such as Geneious and MEGA. After the species of collected samples have been confirmed, we will check if their names appear in the IUCN Red List, CITES Appendices and the Vietnam Red Data Book to determine whether they are threatened.

My project

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