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.

  • AG1007: Introduction to Plants and Animals for Veterinary Science (Level 1; TSV)
  • BZ1007: Introduction to Biodiversity (Level 1; 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 150+ 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.

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

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

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

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation - Research Grants

Global Shark and Ray Initiative - Quickstart projects

Indicative Funding
$45,186 over 2 years (administered by Wildlife Conservation Society)
This project is part of a large project that is developing a global conservation strategy for sharks and rays. This work will investigate two aspects of global shark conservation. 1. It will assist in the development of the case for conservation of devil rays, silky shark, freshwater stingrays and guitarfish; 2. It will assist in the development of simple fisheries management tools for the rapid conservation of sharks and rays.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Science & Engineering)
shark; Fisheries Management; Ray Crystal-Structure; Conservation

Fisheries Research & Development Corporation - Research & Development Funding - Research Grant

A Report Card for Australia's Sharks and Rays

Indicative Funding
$199,999 over 3 years
This project will synthesise information from a large number of previous and current research projects to generate both a repository of accessible knowledge, as well as a report card on the status of sharks and rays in Australia.
Colin Simpfendorfer, William White and Andrew Chin (College of Science & Engineering and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Shark; Ray; Population Status; Conservation; Fisheries Management

Department of the Environment - National Environmental Research Program - Marine Biodiversity Hub

Exploring the status of Australia's hammerhead sharks

Indicative Funding
$48,266 (administered by AIMS)
Hammerhead sharks are the focus of conservation management through recent listing on CITES and CMS. However, the state of knowledge of hammerhead sharks in Australia requires exploration. Data on hammerhead interactions with fisheries, life history and ecology will be gathered to address this need. Collected data will be used to construct a series of conceptual models of population structure of hammerhead sharks in Australia. This analysis will refine the status of these speciews and identify re3quired research or management. This project precedes targeted research to provide information required for effective management of these populations.
Colin Simpfendorfer and Andrew Chin in collaboration with Michelle Heupel and William White (Australian Institute of Marine Science, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation and College of Science & Engineering)
Fisheries Management; hammerhead sharks; status assessment

Wildlife Conservation Society - Consultancy

Global Shark and Ray Initiative - Fisheries Substrategy

Indicative Funding
This project is part of a large project that is developing a global conservation strategy for sharks and rays. This work will develop a Fisheries Management substrategy within the larger project. This will be used as the basis for ongoing work.
Colin Simpfendorfer in collaboration with David Welch (College of Science & Engineering, C20 - Coasts, Climate and Oceans)
Shark; Ray; Conservation; Fisheries Management

Save Our Seas Foundation - Grant

Exposure and sensitivity of the porcupine ray to climate change and coral reef degradation

Indicative Funding
The porcupine ray is a highly distinctive reef dwelling stingray. It is widely distributed but rare and very little is known about it. However, it is classed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, and is one of the two shark and rays species at risk to climate change in the Great Barrier Reef. This project will explore the spatial ecology of the porcupine ray to determine its habitat use patterns and dependencies and its ability to move and adapt. These factors affect the species vulnerability to impacts from fisheries and environmental change, and understanding these traits will be essential to assess and develop management responses.
Andrew Chin and Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Science & Engineering)
ray Urogymnus asperrimus; Coral Reef; habitat disturbance; Fisheries; Climate Change; Vulnerable Species

Department of the Environment - National Environmental Research Program - Tropical Ecosystems Hub

Drivers of juvenile shark biodiversity and abundance in inshore ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$735,000 over 5 years
This project will survey coastal areas between Cardwell and Mackay to investigate the factors that affect how sharks utilise these areas as nurseries.
Colin Simpfendorfer, Andrew Tobin and Michelle Heupel in collaboration with Peter Yates, Samantha Munroe and Audrey Schlaff (College of Science & Engineering and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Shark; nursery area; environmental variation; portfolio effect

Department of the Environment - National Environmental Research Program - Tropical Ecosystems Hub

Maximising the benefits of mobile predators to GBR ecosystems: the importance of movement, habitat and environment

Indicative Funding
$231,400 over 5 years
This project will study the role of environmental factors in driving the movement of reef predators.
Michelle Heupel, Colin Simpfendorfer and Andrew Tobin (Australian Institute of Marine Science and College of Science & Engineering)
Shark; acoustic telemetry; Reef fish; environmental variation

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.

  • Understanding the Risk to Flatback Turtles from Expanding Industrial Development in Western Australia (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Population Structure and Viability Assessment of Galapagos Sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis) Accross the Pacific Ocean, Defining Relationoship with Carcharhinus Obscurus to Inform Conservation Management. (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Marine Sanctuaries for Wide-Ranging Animals: A Case Study of the Cook Islands Shark Sanctuary. (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Life History and Demographic Modelling of Shark Species Caught in Indo-Pacific Fisheries (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • A holistic approach to shark fisheries science and management: The role of contempory indigenous knowledge (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Ghost Nets Across the Arafura Timor Sea Region: Perspectives of a Wicked Problem (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Biology and Population Dynamics of Blue Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum) across Northern Australia (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Conservation Approaches for Hammerhead Sharks in Australian Waters. (PhD, Primary 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)
  • Examining Coral Reef Carrying Capacity and Trophic Roles of Grey Reef Sharks in the Central GBR. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Effects of Environmental Variation on Habitat Use and Movement of the Blacktip Reef Shark, Carcharhinus Melanopterus. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • The Biology and Ecology of Carcharhiniform Sharks Caught in the Papua New Guinea Prawn Trawl Fishery. (Masters, Primary Advisor)
  • Investigation of Coral Trout (Plectropomus spp.) Movement Patterns and Resource Use: A Multidisciplinary Approach Using Acoustic Telemetry and Dietary Indicators (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • A Challenging Environment in a Changing World of Juvenile Sharks: Ecological Energetics of Climate Change with Implications Toward Conservation (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Ecological Specialisation and Connectivity of the Australian Sea Snakes. (PhD, Secondary 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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  5. Dr Jodie Rummer
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