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.

  • 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 132+ research outputs authored by Prof Colin Simpfendorfer from 2002 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding 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, with the help of Andrew Chin (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences 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, with the help of Jonathan Smart (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea and College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
Shark; Ray; Papua New Guinea; Fishery; Management; Conservation

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 Marine & Environmental Sciences)
shark; Fisheries Management; Ray Crystal-Structure; Conservation

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, with the help of Michelle Heupel and William White (Australian Institute of Marine Science, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation and College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
Fisheries Management; hammerhead sharks; status assessment

United Nations Environment Programme - Switzerland - Contract Research

Capacity Building in Oceania to Implement CITES Sharks and Ray Activities

Indicative Funding
This proposal seeks to fund a region-wide capacity building project in Oceania to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) activities for recently-listed sharks and rays. On 14 September 2014 the CITES Appendix II listing of five shark and two manta ray species took effect. To ensure the harvest for export is sustainable, parties must have a non-detriment finding (NDF), be able to monitor exports and domestic take, and respond if take from all sources exceeds the NDF harvest limits.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
Shark; Ray Crystal-Structure; Conservation; Fisheries Management

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, with the help of David Welch (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, C20 - Coasts, Climate and Oceans)
Shark; Ray; Conservation; Fisheries Management

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 Marine & Environmental Sciences and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Shark; Ray; Population Status; Conservation; Fisheries Management

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, with the help of Peter Yates, Samantha Munroe and Audrey Schlaff (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences 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 Marine & Environmental Sciences)
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.

  • The Biology and Ecology of Carcharhiniform Sharks from the bycatch of the Papua New Guinea prawn trawl fishery. (Masters, Primary Advisor)
  • Ecological Specialisation and Connectivity of the Australian Sea Snakes. (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Biology and Population Dynamics of Blue Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum) across Northern Australia (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Improving Understanding of Spatial Ecology Through Network Analysis of Acoustic Monitoring Data. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Assessing Ecological Risk Posed to Common Rays by Prawn Trawling (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Ecology of Stingrays on Coral Reefs in Queensland (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Resolving Reef Shark Abundance and Carrying Capacity on the Great Barrier Reef, QLD, Australia. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Conservation Approaches for Hammerhead Sharks in Australian Waters. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Understanding Risk to Marine Turtles from Expanding Industrial Development in Northern Western Australia. (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Life Hisotry and Demographics of Sharks Targeted by South East Asian Long Line Fisheries. (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • A holistic approach to Australian fisheries resource management: How can Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous cultural values be utilised in contemporary fisheries management effectively? (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Ghost Nets Across the Arafura Timor Sea Region: Perspectives of a Wicked Problem (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)
  • 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)
  • Habitat Selection and Resource Utilization of Predatory Coral Trout Species in Reef Systems. (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Effects of Environmental Variation on Habitat Use and Movement of the Blacktip Reef Shark, Carcharhinus Melanopterus. (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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  3. Dr Andrew Tobin
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  4. Dr Michelle Heupel
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  5. Dr Jodie Rummer
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