NEWS BRIEFING: Shark numbers dive 92 per cent in the last half a century

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

Shark populations off the east coast of Australia have been declining over the past 55 years and show little evidence of recovery, according to Australian research, suggesting any increase in attacks is not being driven by greater shark numbers. The researchers analysed the data on hammerhead sharks, whaler sharks, tiger sharks and Great White sharks from the Queensland Shark Control Program over 55 years. They found dramatic declines in shark numbers with drops ranging from 74 per cent for tiger sharks up to 92 per cent for hammerheads and white sharks. The researchers say the most likely reason for the decline is overfishing but that the Queensland Shark Control Program is also likely to have had a localised impact.

Journal/conference: Communications Biology

DOI: 10.1038/s42003-018-0233-1

Organisation/s: The University of Queensland, Griffith University

Funder: C.J.B. was supported by a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE160101207) from the Australian Research Council, M.A.P. was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. Use of the Shark Control Program data is by courtesy of the State of Queensland, Australia through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Media Briefing/Press Conference

From: Australian Science Media Centre


  • Dr George Roff is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland
  • Dr Christopher Brown is a research fellow at Griffith University

Date: Thurs 13 Dec 2018
Start Time: 10:30am AEDT
Duration: Approx 25 min 
Venue: Online


  • Springer Nature
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  • Australian Science Media Centre
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  • The University of Queensland
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  • Hammerhead shark entangled in a net
    Hammerhead shark entangled in a net

    Hammerhead shark entangled in a Queensland Shark Control Program net at Magnetic Island, Townsville.

    File size: 2.5 MB

    Attribution: Nicole McLachlan

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 14 Dec 2018 1:02am

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  • Shark Numbers Video

    Shark numbers are exploding right? Not according to science!

    File Size: 15.1 MB

    Attribution: Australian Academy of Science

    Permission Category: Free to share (must credit)

    Last Modified: 14 Dec 2018 1:02am

    Note: High resolution video files are only available for download here by registered journalists who are logged in.

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