Status of Freshwater and Estuarine Elasmobranchs in Northern Australia


D.C. Thorburn, S. Peverell, J.D. Stevens, P.R. Last and A.J. Rowland
September 2004

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Australia has an extremely rich shark and ray fauna with the most recent taxonomic review estimating that of the approximately 1025 species of sharks and rays worldwide (Leonard Compagno, South African Museum, Cape Town, pers. comm), at least 297 species inhabit Australian waters (Last and Stevens 1994). Of these species more than half (54%) are endemic to Australian waters (Shark Advisory Group 2001).

While there is still much to be learnt of the taxonomy, biology and distribution of chondrichthyan species found in Australia, a recent comprehensive review of the fauna (Last and Stevens 1994), and international synopses such as those produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO, several authors, 1998; 1999), reveal significant advances in our knowledge compared to the earlier accounts of Whitley (1940), covering 162 species, and of Paxton et al. (1989), covering 177 species.