Prof Colin Simpfendorfer is a Professor of Marine Biology in the College of Science and Engineering. 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 was recognized by his appointment as the Co-Chair of the IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group from 2012 to 2020. 

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
  • 2020 to present - Adjunct Professor, James Cook University
  • 2006 to 2020 - 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
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 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 281+ 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.

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

Global Shark and Ray Initiative (activity support).

Indicative Funding
$105,542 over 6 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
$253,655 over 4 years
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

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

Global Shark Trends Project

Indicative Funding
$134,766 over 2 years (administered by Simon Fraser University)
This project will deliver planning tools and communicate knowledge of the trajectories and extinction risk of shark and ray populations. We will provide the first indices of the effects of fisheries exploitation (and other threats) upon chondrichthyans for incorporation into intergovernmental processes, (inc. 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook and UN Sustainable Development Goal annual reporting. These indicators have the potential to set the ocean conservation agenda for the next decade beyond 2020 as decision-makers look forward to developing targets out to 2030. Critically, these outcome-focused indicators and priorities can help maximise the effectiveness of conservation actions and reduce the risk of squandered investment.
Nick K Dulvy and Colin Simpfendorfer in collaboration with Cassie Rigby and Melissa Joyce (Simon Fraser University and College of Science & Engineering)
Shark; Conservation; ICUN Red List; Ray Crystal-Structure; population status

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission - Contract Research

Operational Planning for Shark Biological Data Improvement Terms of Reference

Indicative Funding
$40,450 over 1 year
The objective of this study is to compile, review and prioritise a list of biological data gaps for the WCPFC key shark species and propose a practical plan for filling them
Colin Simpfendorfer and Andrew Chin (College of Science & Engineering)
Shark; Life History; research planning

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

Exploring the status of Australia's hammerhead sharks

Indicative Funding
$64,709 over 5 years (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

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Research Grant

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

Indicative Funding
$161,192 over 6 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.

  • Conservation Genomics and Ecology of True Sea Snakes (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Impacts of ocean deoxygenation on elasmobranchs (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Habitat Use, Movement Patterns and Trophic Ecology of Sharks and rays within Mangrove Forests (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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


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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