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Our research focuses on sharks. By studying these iconic predators, we work to unveil the mysteries of their behaviour, ecology and core habitats. We track changes over time and contribute to the management and conservation of vulnerable species. We focus on changing public perceptions about sharks through science-based education projects.

Current Research


In Community


Current Research


Tracking Threatened Sharks

Use acoustic telemetry to identify the critical habitats of vulnerable and critically endangered sharks along the South African coastline. Provide advice for new species-specific management policies and potential protected areas. SASC’s flagship telemetry program is our SOUPFIN SHARK RESEARCH PROGRAM and focuses on the seasonality, site fidelity and movement ecology of mature, critically endangered Soupfin sharks (Galeorhinus galeus) along the South African coast.

Sharks & Climate

Build upon a decade-long mark-recapture database to identify shark population trends and their link to climate change. Over 2000 sharks have been tagged to date. Animals are measured, weighed and their sex is recorded as part of the study.

Morphometrics of Sharks

Morphometrics or morphometry is widely used to quantify evolutionary trends by identifying changes in shape and size of an organism. This project compares morphological species identification with genetic markers to identify sub-populations for spatially-explicit management purposes. We are also able to assess species hybridisation.

Shark Reproduction

Through dedicated beach surveys we record the number and diversity of egg cases to support a collaborative nationwide study on egg-laying (oviparous) shark populations. Data are submitted to the citizen science project ELMO.

Sharks & Marine Protected Areas

Using Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs) we study the diversity and abundance of species in Walker Bay. The goal is to evaluate the impact of habitat, season and management on community structures. BRUVs are a non-invasive and easy to replicate study technique employed across the country by many of our partners and collaborators.

Turtle Stranding

SASC is part of the turtle stranding network. We find and rescue stranded hatchlings, and transport the turtles to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town for rehabilitation.

Lab-based Behavioral Study

We conduct numerous and ongoing lab-based experiments in the Shark Lab. Our tanks, with constant sea water inflow, provide an exceptional opportunity to study and monitor the behavior of endemic sharks. We study aggregation behaviour and foraging behavior, as well as bioluminescence, in sharks.

Lab-based Physiological Study

A Shark Lab-based experiment focused on dark shyshark physiology and colouration. We are studying the impacts of water quality, turbidity, habitat type and stress on sharks.

Baby Sharks

A complementary project to the mark-recapture study, this project aims to fill knowledge gaps on baby sharks - sharks too small to be tagged with dart tags. Juvenile sharks are measured and weighed every two weeks until they reach 30cm total length, then they are tagged with dart tags and released. The study includes small individuals captured while fishing or snorkeling as well as animals born in the Shark Lab.

Predator-Prey Interactions

Through BRUVs, stable isotopes and eDNA we are studying predator-prey interactions and food webs of sharks.
Shark Infographic

In Community

In collaboration with WWF SA, SASC developed a community-based research project using Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) methods to assess the effectiveness of the Betty’s Bay marine protected area. This project established a positive partnership with small-scale fishers from the Kogelberg Biosphere Region. Through field-based training, community members become skilled in using cameras, data analysis and database management. This project facilitates co-governance and -management of marine spaces and species.

In Community Fishermen


McCord, M.E. & Lamberth, S.J. (2009) Catching and tracking the world’s largest Zambezi (bull) shark Carcharhinus laucas in the Breede Estuary, South Africa: the first 43 hours. African Journal of Marine Science 31(1)

Da Silva, C., Booth, A.J., Dudley, S.F.J., Lamberth, S.J., Leslie, R.W. et al. (2015) The current status and management of South Africa’s chondrichthyan fisheries. African Journal of Marine Science 37(2)

Bester-van der Merwe, A.E., Bitalo, D., Cuevas, J.M., Ovenden, J. et al. (2017) Population genetics of Southern Hemisphere tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus): Intercontinental divergence and constrained gene flow at different geographical scales. PLoS One 12(9)

Mannheim, S.L., Childs, A.-R., Butler, E.C., Winkler, A.C., Parkinson, M.C., Farthing, M.W., Zweig, T., McCord, M.E. et al. (2018) Working with, not against recreational anglers: Evaluating a pro-environmental behavioural strategy for improving catch-and-release behaviour. Fisheries Research 206.

Osgood, G. J, McCord, M. E. & Baum, J. K (2019) Using baited underwater video (BRUV’s) to characterize chondrichthyan communities in a global biodiversity hotspot. PloS One 14(12), e02258959.

Osgood, G. J, McCord, M. E. & Baum, J. K (2020) Chondrichthyans as an umbrella species-complex for conserving South African biodiversity. African Journal of Marine Science, 42(1), 81-93.

Van Staden, M., Gledhill, K., Gennari, E., McCord, M. E., Parkinson, M., Watson, R., Rhode, C. & Bester-van der Merwe, A. (2020). Microsatellite development and detection of admixture among three sympatric Haploblepharus species (Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae). Aquatic Conservation Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 30(12).

Pollom, R., Da Silva, C., Gledhill, K., Leslie, R., McCord, M.E. & Winker, H. (2020) Acroteriobatus annulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Pollom, R., Da Silva, C., Gledhill, K., McCord, M.E. & Winker, H. (2020) Triakis megalopterus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Pollom, R., Gledhill, K., Da Silva, C., McCord, M.E. & Winker, H. (2020) Poroderma africanum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Pollom, R., Bennett, R., Da Silva, C., Ebert, D.A., Gledhill; K., Leslie, R., McCord, M.E. & Winker, H. (2020) Dasyatis chrysonota. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Pollom, R., Cheok, J., Pacoureau, N., Gledhill, K.S., Kyne, P.M. et al. (2022) Overfishing and Climate Change Elevate Extinction Risk of Endemic Sharks and Rays in the Southwest Indian Ocean Hotspot and Adjacent Waters.

Cortelezzi, P., Paulet, T. G., Olbers, J., Harris, J. & Bernard, A.T. F (2022) Conservation benefits of a Marine Protected Area on South African chondrichthyans. Journal of Environmental Management 319(1)

Kiyatake, I., Johnson, T. L., Cottrant, E., Kitadani, Y., Onda, K., Murata, M., Drobniewska, N. J., Paulet, T. G., & Nishida, K. (2023). A comparison of the growth and development of pyjama sharks (Poroderma africanum) in wild and captive populations. Journal of Fish Biology, 1–11.

Faure-Beaulieu, N., Lombard, A.T, Olbers, J., Goodall, V., Da Silva, C., Daly, R., Jordaan, G., Kerwath, S.E, Kock, A., Mann, B.Q., Murray, T.S., Albano, P., Cliff, G., Dos Santos, N.A, Gennari, E., Hammerschlag, N., Bester-van der Merwe, A.E., Watson, R., Andreotti, S., Bernard, A.T.F, Cowley, P.D, De Vos, L., Drobniewska, N., Elston, C., Fallows, C., Rogers, T.D, Smith, G., Van Staden, M., De Villiers, P., Paulet, T.G., Harris, J. (2023). A systematic conservation plan identifying critical areas for improved chondrichthyan protection in South Africa, Biological Conservation, Volume 284, 2023.

Cottrant, E., Drobniewska, N.J., Johnson, T.L, Underhill, L.G, Murray, T.S, Hammerschlag, N., McCord, M.E, Cowley, P.D, Fallows, C. & Paulet, T.G. (2023). Network analysis of the endemic spotted gully shark (Triakis megalopterus) reveals spatial vulnerability to exploitation in the Western Cape, South Africa, African Journal of Marine Science, 45:4, 273-283.

Klein, J. D., Maduna, S. N., Dicken, M. L., da Silva, C., Soekoe, M., McCord, M. E., Potts, W. M., Hagen, S. B., & Bester-van der Merwe, A. E. (2024). Local adaptation with gene flow in a highly dispersive shark. Evolutionary Applications, 17, e13628.

Johnson, T.L, de Bresser, J.C, Cottrant E., Drobniewska, N.J, Paulet, T.G & Underhill, L.G. (2024) Distribution and site fidelity of four endemic catshark species in Walker Bay, South Africa, African Journal of Marine Science.


At the Shark Academy, interns and volunteers contribute to ongoing research by undergraduate and postgraduate students. Take a peek into current and recent projects that people are contributing to.

Current Student Projects



Emy Cottrant

Using non-lethal monitoring techniques to build species-specific management policies in order to protect vulnerable and endemic Chondrichthyan species of Southern Africa.

Michael Markovina

Advantages in Chondrichthyan optical ecology to design biofluorescent fishing nets to reduce Chondrichthyan bycatch through visual detection.



Carolina Heuer

Habitat preference of spotted gully shark (Triakis Megalopterus) along the South African coastline.



Sofie Möhrle

Effectiveness and species community assessment in the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area.

Olivia Dinkelacker

Assessing the effectiveness of Betty’s Bay marine protected area using Baited Remote Underwater Videos.

Hannah Haarmann

Effectiveness and biodiversity assessment in Betty’s Bay marine protected area.

Advanced Diploma


Jessica Morrison

Using acoustic telemetry to investigate the seasonal movement ecology of the short-tail stingray (Bathytoshia brevicaudata) along the South African Coast: implications for conservation and management

Past Student Projects


Geoffrey Osgood

Shark population abundances and trends: Improving estimates and inference.


Paolo Cortelezzi

Conservation benefits of a marine protected area on South African chondrichthyans.

Darragh Corcoran

The effects of diver presence on shyshark and catshark behaviour

Joshua Williams

The effects of lipid and urea extraction treatments on stable isotope ratios in coastal demersal shark tissue

Claire Saleh

Occurrence, distribution and conservation status of Batoidea in the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot, South Africa

Matteo D’angelo

An examination of behavioural responses in four Scyliorhinidae shark species to a changing geomagnetic field


Brandon Queiroz

Biodiversity, distribution and abundance of fish species within the Cape Whale Hope Spot, South Africa

Anne Top

Occurrence of cetaceans in Walker Bay using opportunistic data

Sixtine Fleury

Effects of marine bioelectric fields on shark behavioural patterns

Advanced Diplomas

Annie Coetzee

Developing the Walker Bay Elasmobranch Survey project and collect baseline data on the population dynamics, seasonal and environmental influence on inshore demersal elasmobranchs in the Walker Bay area using rock and surf angling

Kyle Maurer

A comparative analysis of accumulation rates, composition and distribution of micro- and macro-debris on a blue flag and non-blue flag beach in Walker Bay, South Africa

Get Involved

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