Threatened and endangered species

Australia has a large number of threatened and endangered species. Many of these are large, iconic megafauna that are important symbols of the health and diversity of our marine habitats. These include whales, dolphins, sea turtles and large sharks and rays.

AIMS will conduct research on the status and movement patterns of key megafauna species so that their habitat requirements and movement patterns can be used to identify critical areas for conservation, as well as high risk areas where concentrations of human activities intersect with migration corridors and critical habitats for key species.

Achievements 

Identification of impacts on iconic marine species:

  • Our long-term reef monitoring off the north-west coast revealed that healthy shark populations may aid the recovery of coral. The study found that where shark numbers were lower due to fishing, the number of herbivores—important fishes in promoting reef health—were also significantly lower.
  • A five-year AIMS study confirmed that the code of conduct developed by Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation to protect whale sharks in Ningaloo, Western Australia, is effective.
  • Our acoustic telemetry of sea turtle populations has provided a much better understanding of the early offshore movements of turtle hatchlings at Ningaloo, findings that will be used to manage development activities in the nesting areas.

Future directions

Our main goals over the next five years are:

  • identifying habitat preferences and plasticity, and spatial dynamics of key threatened and endangered species, including sharks, turtles and whales
  • determining the direct and indirect impacts of different human activities on the status of threatened and endangered across northern Australia.