Recent survey discovers significant population of the endangered Northern River Shark

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Recent survey discovers significant population of the endangered Northern River Shark

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Recently the NERP threatened euryhaline elasmobranch (sawfish and river sharks) project surveyed the East Alligator River for river sharks. From 26 September to 03 October 2013 these surveys documented a previously unrecognised significant population of the Endangered Northern River Shark.

One of the Northern River Sharks captured during the recent NERP East Alligator River Survey

One of the Northern River Sharks captured during the recent NERP East Alligator River Survey

Seventeen sites were surveyed downstream of Cahill’s Crossing with Northern River Sharks recorded at all sites. 71 individuals from young sharks to adult males and females were recorded and PIT tagged. Previous to this survey there were only 2 records of Northern River Sharks from the East Alligator.

A much lower number of the Critically Endangered Speartooth Shark were recorded (6) while Bull Sharks were present throughout the river (19 recorded). Bull Sharks were also the only shark species recorded in limited fishing upstream of Cahill’s Crossing and in Magela Creek.

These surveys demonstrate that the East Alligator provides critical habitat for Northern River Sharks and together with the South Alligator River population (which the NERP team are also surveying), reflect the national and global importance of Kakadu National Park for this species.

In sum, the elasmobranch catch for this trip consisted of:

Northern River Shark Glyphis garricki  71
Speartooth Shark Glyphis glyphis    6
Bull Shark Carcharhinus leucas 19

 

Many thanks Mick Gorst for all of his great assistance, and to Anne O’Dea and the Traditional Owners of Kakadu.

Northern River Shark

Northern River Shark