Dr Andrew Chin
Ecology of marine predators
James Cook University
Despite popular belief, sharks are actually important animals that keep our marine ecosystems healthy by balancing out prey species. Also, as tourist attractions, they generate income for communities and tourism companies across the Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef. Sharks are also important in fisheries for food and income.
Unfortunately, one in four species of sharks may go extinct due to over-fishing and habitat loss. Dr Chin’s research tackles these problems by catching, tagging and tracking sharks he hopes to discover where they live and how they move, showing which habitats need to be protected and how to design Marine Parks to preserve breeding stocks. His research also looks at how fast sharks grow and reproduce to figure out sustainable fishing levels, so that people can still fish for a living without endangering shark populations.
As a Science Ambassador for the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science Program, Andrew runs interactive lab sessions at high schools where students practice catching and tagging (frozen) sharks. Aside from many mainstream media interviews and articles, he also launched The Great Porcupine Ray Hunt, a citizen science project engaging SCUBA divers and fishers in research on rare stingrays.