Shark and ray community structure in a turbid, nearshore coral reef habitat

Published on
11. February 2020

Shark and ray community structure in a turbid, nearshore coral reef habitat

Arthur Yon, Mark G. Meekan, Samantha Andrzejaczek, Sarah Martinez, Conrad W. Speed


The coastline of northern Australia may be a refuge for elasmobranchs threatened or extirpated from much of their former ranges across South-East Asia. In this study, we used baited remote underwater video stations to survey the abundance, size and assemblage of elasmobranchs in the Cobourg Marine Park in northern Australia. Two sites were sampled inside the park and one site was sampled outside the park, covering two management zones: open and partially protected. During the austral summer, 85 individuals of 12 species of elasmobranch were observed over 12 days. No significant differences were observed among sites in either size or abundance for common species. Videos were dominated by Carcharhinus melanopterus (relative abundance ± s.d., 0.29 ± 0.90 h–1), Nebrius ferrugineus (0.03 ± 0.24 h–1) and Urogymnus granulatus (0.08 ± 0.28 h–1), which comprised >81% of all individuals. Environmental variables had no measurable effect on the abundance of elasmobranchs. The abundance and diversity of elasmobranchs in Cobourg Marine Park is high compared with other similar turbid, inshore areas of northern Australia. The large number of juveniles observed in our surveys also suggests the possibility of a nursery area.

Marine and Freshwater Research, Online Early Version; DOI: 10.1071/MF19301


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