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Project objectives

  1. Build robust species lists of sharks and rays for every country in the Indo-Pacific.

  2. Provide a conservation overview of the sharks and rays in each country to aid the development of national and regional plans of management.

  3. Build communities of practice of shark scientists, managers, industry, and conservation practitioners throughout the region.

The Indo-Pacific checklists

Shark Search Indo-Pacific's core project is to produce a species checklist and overview for each country and territory, starting with the Western and Central Pacific. Each checklist will be developed as an individual project that works with local experts in each country. Each checklist will also be a living document that over time, will be updated and changed as new information sources - and perhaps even new species - are discovered.


2016: Checklist of Solomon Islands - COMPLETED

2018: checklists projects are planned for Fiji, French Polynesia, Niue, Tuvalu, and the Federated States of Micronesia


Each checklist and conservation overview will be published as a scientific paper in Pacific Conservation Biology as Open Access articles. This means the checklists and data will be freely accessible to everyone in the Indo-Pacific, and archived for future users. 


If you would like SharkSearch Indo-Pacific to begin a checklist project focused on your country or region, please contact us

Bluespot lagoon rays
Telling apart our bluespotted lagoon rays and banded maskrays
Project objective: build a photo library of blue-spotted lagoon rays from specific regions to help taxonomists resolve fine-scale differences in this group of very similar looking species.

The more we look, the more we find - and so it is with our Indo-Pacific sharks and rays! The bluespotted lagoon ray (Taeniura lymma) and banded maskray (Neotrygon kuhlii) are pretty widely known species. However, it looks like these species are actually each made up of several 'cryptic' species that look very similar to each other. This is called a "species complex" - where what we think is one species is actually several similar looking species that just haven't been separated yet.


To sort this confusion out, we need photographs of bluespotted lagoon rays and banded maskrays from Eastern Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. 


Taeniura lymma - or maybe someting else?

Image by BBMExplorer CC-BY-NC 2.0

Eagle ray project
2019-02-03 15_58_38-Windows Media Player

An un-identifiable eagle ray from Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef. Some eagle rays species may yet to be discovered


Ornate eagle ray from Ningaloo in Western Australia. Almost nothing is known about this charismatic spceies.

Photo by Alex Kydd | IG @alexkyddphoto 

A closer look at eagle rays
(Project co-investigator Alex Kydd)
Project objective: build a photo library of lesser-known eagle ray species to collect information on their taxonomy, range, distribution, seasonal movements, and natural history.

Many divers will be very familiar with the spotted eagle ray (Aetobatis narinari), however, there are many more eagle ray species that are less well known and poorly studied. Eagle rays are also tricky to identify, for example, the ocellated eagle ray (Aetobatus ocellatus) was only described as a new species in 2010, with A. narinari now considered restricted to the Atlantic. Some species may even be new species that haven't been identified yet (see photo on the left).


Eagle rays are also sometimes caught in fishing nets, and many species are listed by the IUCN Red List as threatened with extinction or are data deficient. This project is collecting images and natural history accounts of the less-well known eagle rays such as:

  • Ornate eagle ray (Aetomylaeus vespertilio)

  • Banded eagle ray (Aetomylaeus nichofii)

  • Purple eagle ray (Myliobatus hamlyni


This project is seeking photographs of these species so that we can begin to build up a library of sightings and natural history observations. These photos and observations will be lodged on iNaturalist and over time, may reveal new insights on the distribution and natural history of these rays, and perhaps, help taxonomists describe new species. 


The project is a collaborative effort with renowned ocean photographer Alex Kydd, who shares a passion for eagle rays, especially the ornate eagle ray. Alex is helping us to source imagery of these species. However, if you have photos of these lesser-known eagle rays, we would love to hear from you! Click on the "Use my photo" button to contribute!

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