PNG has diverse shark, ray fauna, researcher says


Papua New Guinea has a highly diverse range of sharks and rays, with at least 120 species known in its waters, a researcher says.
Australian shark researcher Dr William White said during an exhibition in Port Moresby last week that while doing research work with the National Fisheries Authority on sharks and rays, they found 122 species.
“These range from deep-water species living below 1000m in depth in the Bismarck Sea to species which occur well upstream in the freshwater parts of major PNG river systems,” he said.
White said shark and ray fauna of PNG were not understood well and the NFA, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) were aiming to improve people’s understanding of the important apex predators.
“Apex predators sit at the top of the food chain. So when we remove that, the whole food chain collapses. At one stage people used to think if you take sharks out of the eco system, you will have more fish because the sharks eat the fish but it doesn’t work that way.
“We’ve got 12,500 species of sharks and about 650 species of rays, sharks need a lot more research done on them then rays. You see a lot on display, we’ve got some good ray species, in reality there are more rays species threatened with extinction and data deficient which means we don’t have much more information than on sharks.”

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