iSimangaliso Wetland Park Elasmobranch Assessment

This project falls under SHARKLIFE MAIN OBJECTIVE: Through scientific research, education and awareness bring about positive change to the current destructive trends of ocean exploitation. The aim of this study is to build baseline ecological data for elasmobranch species found in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (ISWP)

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Image: Tomas Kotuc


Project Overview:

The Southern African region (Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique) has one of the richest and most diverse elasmobranch faunas in the world, comprising all 13 orders, 49 families, 111 genera and approximately 204 species. 107 of the shark species found in southern Africa have been IUCN assessed with 20.6% categorised as Data Deficient and 32.7% categorised as threatened with extinction. That is twice as high as the global average of 15.9% (Ebert & van Hees 2015).

Rays account for five of the seven most threatened elasmobranch families; sawfish, guitarfish, wedgefish, sleeper rays and stingrays. Each of these families is represented within Southern Africa. Despite their poor conservation status, skates and rays are understudied. Due to a lack of comprehensive research there is a paucity of information available for many ray species, including insufficient ecological and life history information as well as clear taxonomic classification.

There is therefore an urgent need for greater research effort on elasmobranches within Southern Africa to inform conservation management strategies.

The aim of this 3 year study is to build baseline ecological data for elasmobranch species found in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (ISWP). Due to the breadth of this study the aim will be accomplished through a number of objectives all of which integrate temporal and spatial variability of species.  The findings from this study will provide much needed ecological data, highlight areas for further research, and inform management strategies for elasmobranch species within the ISWP.

This study also addresses high priority knowledge gaps highlighted in the South African National Plan of Action for Sharks (NPOA-Sharks), particularly the issue cluster termed “classification and assessment of shark species” (da Silva et al. 2018).



If you would like to be part of this annual study please review the options on our Internship Page 


This study is in collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority.  

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Sharklife Ocean Center

Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu Natal
South Africa 3974

Email: info@sharklife.co.za
Ph/WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 935 9427