Since the start of the project, we have already collected many historical and contemporary samples from white sharks less than 2 m to sharks over 5 m at various locations. Sample collection is now well underway with genetic samples being obtained from as far back as 1888. Thanks to the collaboration of museums around Australia, we have also been able to collect samples from sharks caught in 1940, 1967, and 1987. These will form the basis of the historic samples that will be compared to genetic samples obtained from live sharks through the collaborations of the cage-diving operators in South Australia and scientists around Australia.
Novel genetic techniques, which will be used to process the samples and analyse the data, have been developed by our geneticist collaborators, who also developed novel analytical methods for the data produced by the sequencing. This will allow fast and effective analysis of the data and also enhance current methods used.
We are all looking forward to finalising sample collection so that they can all be sent for sequencing. We will then, for the first time, be able to look at our results which will provide empirical evidence to validate or refute the many speculations about the Australian white shark population size.