Prof Colin Simpfendorfer is the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture. He has more than 25 years of experience in researching sharks, and has published extensively in the scientific literature on shark biology, ecology, fisheries and conservation. His expertise on sharks has been recognized by his appointment as the Co-Chair of the IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group. 

Colin is a graduate of James Cook University, having undertaken both his undergraduate and postgraduate training in Townsville. After completing his PhD he worked on shark fisheries at the Western Australian Fisheries Department before moving to Florida to work at the Centre for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory. He returned to JCU in 2007 to lead the Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, where he has helped build a research group focused on improving our understanding of sharks and how best to conserve and manage their populations.

  • BS1001: Introduction to Biological Processes (Level 1; TSV)
  • BZ1001: Introduction to Biological Processes (Level 1; TSV)
  • EV3014: Managing Tropical Fisheries (Level 3; TSV)
  • EV5014: Managing Tropical Fisheries (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB5610: Fishing Gear and Technologies (Level 5; TSV)
  • Status and sustainable use of elasmobranch populations
  • Science for the conservation of elasmobranch populations
  • Nursery areas for sharks
  • Analytical tools for acoustic monitoring studies
  • 2006 to present - Professor, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
  • 1999 to 2006 - Senior Scientist, Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, Florida, USA)
  • 1993 to 1999 - Senior Research Scientist, Western Australian Fisheries (Perth, Western Australia)
  • 1987 to 1993 - Academic Level A, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
Research Disciplines
  • 2013 - Advisor of the Year Award, Advisory Panel Category - Highly Commended
  • 2011 - JCU Faculty of Science and Engineering Dean's Research Award (Group)
  • 2012 to 2015 - Co-Chair IUCN Shark Specialist Group

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 177+ research outputs authored by Prof Colin Simpfendorfer from 2002 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

WWF Hong Kong - Contract Research

A Practical Guide to the Effective Creation and Management of MPAs for Sharks and Rays

Indicative Funding
This project will translate the outcomes of a larger project on shark and ray MPAs into a practical guide for use by marine park managers and policy makers. The guide will be developed with WWF and made widely available.
Colin Simpfendorfer in collaboration with Cassie Rigby (College of Science & Engineering)
Shark; Marine Protected Areas; Environmental Management

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors - Global Partnership for Sharks & Rays (GPSR)

Maximising outcomes for shark and ray MPAs

Indicative Funding
This project will investigate the benefits of using marine protected areas (MPAs) for shark and ray conservation. It will combine work reviewing the current state of knowledge, synthesis or shark and ray movement data to better inform MPA design, identification of socioeconomic factors that affect MPA success, and spatial moelling to identify the areas where MPAs will be of greatest benefit. I will include partnerships with AIMS and Simon Fraser University.
Colin Simpfendorfer and Amy Diedrich in collaboration with Michelle Heupel and Nick K Dulvy (College of Science & Engineering, Australian Institute of Marine Science and Simon Fraser University)
Marine Protected Areas; movement ecology; Shark; Conservation Planning; ray; Spatial Planning

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Science for Management Award

Examining coral reef carrying capacity and trophic roles of grey reef sharks in the central Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
This project addresses questions around (1) reef predator carrying capacity, (2) reef shark trophic relationships, and (3) space-use of grey reef sharks in tropical coral reefs through ecosystem-based analysis. The research will explore biological and environmental variables to infer fine-scale reef community characteristics and mechanisms driving shark movement. Complementary methodologies such as underwater visual census, diver operated video, and baited remote underwater video used in conjunction with acoustic telemetry and tissue analysis will define predator-prey relationships at the reef level. Surveying multiple reefs open and closed to fishing will help define anthropogenic influences on trophodynamics and community structure.
Stacy Bierwagen, Colin Simpfendorfer and Michelle Heupel (College of Science & Engineering and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Trophodynamics; Ecological modelling; Ecological Behavior; Community Ecology; Acoustic Telemetry; Fishing Impacts

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation - Research Grant

Global Shark and Ray Initiative (activity support)

Indicative Funding
$68,902 over 3 years (administered by Wildlife Conservation Society)
The purpose of this grant is to enable the necessary coordination among the GSRI partners to deliver the Global Shark and Ray Conservation Strategy. Continuing to work together, the GSRI will maximize collective expertise, investments, and respective strengths to support the delivery of the goals and objectives of this collaborative strategy. Supporting this continued coordination will ensure the success of concurrent collaborative GSRI projects and enable the design and implementation of others.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Science & Engineering)
Shark; Fisheries Management; Ray; Conservation

Save Our Seas Foundation - Grant

SOSF Global Sawfish Search

Indicative Funding
This project will enhance global conservation efforts for sawfishes by using environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to undertake a global survey of their current distribution. eDNA represents a cost effective, accurate and simple method for broad-scale surveys of rare and threatened species such as sawfishes. Field and laboratory techniques will be validated for all five sawfish species, a global sampling plan developed and implemented, and the results synthesized to produce revised current distributions of sawfish species.
Colin Simpfendorfer and Dean Jerry in collaboration with Madalyn Cooper, David Morgan, Peter Kyne and John Carlson (College of Science & Engineering, Murdoch University, Charles Darwin University and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Sawfish; Threatened Species; eDNA; Sawfish; marine conservation

Australian Institute of Marine Science - Contract Research

JCU - AIMS Shark Collaboration

Indicative Funding
$178,119 over 3 years
Funding will support a joint post-doc between JCU and AIMS to assist with collaborative projects the ecology and conservation of sharks.
Colin Simpfendorfer and Michelle Heupel in collaboration with Andrew Chin (College of Science & Engineering and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Shark; Ecology; Coral Reef Ecosystems; Hammerhead Sharks

CSIRO - Contract Research

Australian Sawfish Population Viability Analysis

Indicative Funding
Sawfish are the most threatened group of elasmobranch. Australia is home to 4 species and is one of the last refuges where viable populations exist. However, data is limited and the threats in Australia have not been adequately assessed. This project will use population viability analysis to examine the potential effects of fishing on Australian populations.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Science & Engineering)
Sawfish; Threatened Species; Fishing; Pristidae; population viabilityh

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources - Contract Research

Life history attributes data for deepwater sharks ecological risk assessment

Indicative Funding
This project will gather information on the life history of deepwater shaks from the Pacific and Indian Oceans for use in developing a qulaitative isk assessment for deepwater fisheries.
Colin Simpfendorfer and Cassandra Rigby (College of Science & Engineering)
Deepwater ecology; Shark; Ray; Ecological Risk Assessment

Wildlife Conservation Society - Contract Research

Shark Rapid Assessment Toolkit

Indicative Funding
This project will develop tools that developing countries can use to assess the status of their shark and ray resources. It is a partnership between WWF, JCU, AIMS, USP and CSIRO.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Science & Engineering)
Shark fisheries

ACIAR - Research Grant

Sustainable management of the shark resources of Papua New Guinea: socioeconomic and biological characteristics of the fishery

Indicative Funding
$121,192 over 4 years (administered by CSIRO)
The shark fishery in PNG is the country's5th most important export fishery worth about K8 million annually. Sharks are also important to the artisanal fishery and are a potential resource for ecotourism. It is also highly likely that the shark resources of PNG are shared with neighbouring countries, e.g. Australia, Indonesia, and adjacent South Pacific island nations such as the Solomon Islands. Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation due to their life history characteristics, and declines can affect livelihoods of communities. The PNG National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has identified a need to improve fisheries management, underpinned by an assessment of the shark and ray fisheries.
William White, Ludwig Kumoru, Colin Simpfendorfer, Sharon Appleyard and Andrew Chin in collaboration with Jonathan Smart (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea and College of Science & Engineering)
Shark; Ray; Papua New Guinea; Fishery; Management; Conservation

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • A Challenging Environment in a Changing World for Juvenile Sharks: Ecological Energetics of Climate Change with Implications Toward Conservation (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Distribution, Abundance and Conservation Threats of Elasmobranchs in the River Systems of Papua New Guinea (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Effects of Environmental Variation on Habitat Use and Movement of the Blacktip Reef Shark, Carcharhinus Melanopterus. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Conservation Genomics and Ecology of True Sea Snakes (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Examining Coral Reef Carrying Capacity and Trophic Roles of Grey Reef Sharks in the Central GBR. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Marine Sanctuaries for Wide-Ranging Animals: A Case Study of the Cook Islands Shark Sanctuary. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Diversity, Abundance and Distribution of Batoids on Coral Reefs (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Assessing Ecological Risk Posed to Common Rays by Prawn Trawling (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • The Biology and Ecology of Carcharhiniform Sharks Caught in the Gulf of Papua Prawn Trawl Fishery. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Conservation Approaches for Hammerhead Sharks in Australian Waters. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • A holistic approach to shark fisheries science and management: The role of contempory indigenous knowledge (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Resolving the global occurrence and distribution of sawfishes using genetic techniques (PhD , Primary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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