Threatened and protected species

Threatened and protected species undertakes research and monitoring to support restoration and recovery of threatened marine species.

Research focus

Within this research area we look at:

  • Distribution, biology, ecology, habitat use
  • Threatening processes
  • Catastrophic impacts and climate change impacts
  • Population trends
  • Restoration
  • Conservation stocking
  • Effectiveness of management actions

Current projects

Long-term monitoring of size structure and abundance of Black Rockcod (Epinephelus daemelii)

The Black Rockcod is a slow-growing and long-lived fish species that has experienced significant declines over the past century. This research program is assessing changes in size structure and abundance at key locations along the NSW coast where the Black Rockcod occurs. David Harasti

Assessing management actions for the recovery of the Endangered White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei)

The White’s seahorse is the only Endangered seahorse species in Australia and has declined as a result of habitat loss across its range. This research is assessing the effectiveness of conservation stocking in increasing seahorse abundance as well as the role of artificial habitats in helping recover declining populations. David Harasti

Restoration of the Endangered Cauliflower Soft coral (Dendronephthya australis)

The Endangered Cauliflower soft coral has undergone significant declines over the past decade with it disappearing from many locations where it previously occurred. This research is developing methods to grow the soft coral in aquaria to allow for transplanting into the wild to rehabilitate areas where it previously occurred. David Harasti

Restoration and minimising impacts to the endangered seagrass Posidonia australis

Posidonia australis is threatened by a range of disturbances and is slow to recover.  This research program involves developing methods for restoring Posidonia and identifying and ameliorating impacts to this important habitat forming species. Research includes collaborations with the University of NSW and University of WA. Tim Glasby, Graham Housefield, Peter Gibson, Roger Laird

Research for the recovery of the critically endangered grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) off eastern Australia

State of the art field and laboratory techniques are being used to quantify: (1) critical ecological information including patterns of abundance/site usage, localised and migratory movements, reproduction, age and growth; and (2)  threatening processes. Combined, this will facilitate demographic modelling to understand population drivers, provide a basis for management actions and assess recovery. Nick Otway

Key publications

Larkin, M., Davis, T., Harasti, D., Cadiou, G., Poulos, D., & Smith, S. (2021). The rapid decline of an Endangered temperate soft coral species. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 255, 107364.

Sydney Seahorse Breeding Project

Harasti, D. (2021). Getting old: an endangered seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) lives for up to 7 years in the wild. Journal of Fish Biology, 99, 1752-1754

Ferretto, G., Glasby, T.M., Poore, A.G.B., Callaghan, C., Housefield, G.P., Langley, M., Sinclair, E.A., Statton, J., Kendrick, G.A. & Verges, A. (2021) Naturally-detached fragments of the endangered seagrass Posidonia australis collected by citizen scientists can be used to successfully restore fragmented meadows. Biological Conservation.

Otway, N.M., West, G.J., Gore, D.B., & Williamson, J.E. (2021). Hook-shaped enterolith and secondary cachexia in a free-living grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus, Rafinesque 1810). Veterinary Medicine and Science, 7, 240-250