Australian scientists have now completed an 18-month long project aimed at scientifically describing sharks and rays, using traditional techniques as well as modern DNA sequence analysis. The ambitious project has resulted in over 100 species of sharks and rays being properly classified, which is equal to about one third of Australia’s known sharks and rays.

Southern Dogfish Over 100 new sharks and rays named and described!
Southern Dogfish Image credit – CSIRO

Over 90 of the new species had already been identified by Dr Last and Dr Stevens in their book “Sharks and Rays of Australia” from 1994, but remained undescribed and without scientific names.

Many of the new species are endangered in the wild, such as the Maugean Skate and the Southern Dogfish, and having them properly classified and named is important for future monitoring and conservational work. The new descriptions and names will be included in a revised edition of “Sharks and Rays of Australia” which is planned for release in 2009.

Maugean Skate Over 100 new sharks and rays named and described!
Maugean Skate Image credit – CSIRO

The 18-month long study was backed by CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship. National Research Flagships are large-scale multidisciplinary research partnerships and the National Research Flagships program is one of the biggest scientific research endeavours ever undertaken in Australia.

If you’re interested in the Wealth from Oceans Flagship, you can find more information here.