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Section 1 Legal Status, Distribution, Biological, Ecological Conservation Theme

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2010 NOMINATION – Carcharinus leucas

Section 1 - Legal Status, Distribution, Biological, Ecological

Conservation Theme

1. The conservation themes for the assessment period commencing 1 October 2009 (for which nominations close 26 March 2009) are ‘terrestrial, estuarine and near–shore environments of Australia’s coast’, and

rivers, wetlands and groundwater dependent species and ecosystems of inland Australia’.

How does this nomination relate to the conservation theme?

Carcharinus leucas is one of the few truly euryhaline shark species present in tropical and temperate estuarine, riverine and near shore environments in Australia. As a keystone predator in such ecosystems, C. leucas fits the conservation theme for this assessment period.


2. What are the currently accepted scientific and common name/s for the species (please include Indigenous names, where known)?

Note any other scientific names that have been used recently. Note the species authority and the Order and Family to which the species belongs (Family name alone is sufficient for plants, however, both Order and Family name are required for insects).

Scientific Name: Carcharinus leucas (Müller & Henle, 1839)
Common Name:

  • Bull Shark

  • Freshwater Whaler

  • River Whaler

  • Swan River Whaler

  • Bull Whaler

Indigenous Names (Morgan et al, 2002):

  • Ngangu (Bunuba and Walmajarri language)

  • Ngawoonkoo (Nyikina language)

3. Is this species conventionally accepted? If not, explain why. Is there any controversy about the taxonomy?

This species is conventionally accepted.

4. If the species is NOT conventionally accepted, please provide:

(i) a taxonomic description of the species in a form suitable for publication in conventional scientific literature; OR

(ii) evidence that a scientific institution has a specimen of the species and a written statement signed by a person who has relevant taxonomic expertise (has worked, or is a published author, on the class of species nominated), that the person thinks the species is a new species.

Not applicable

5. Is this species taxonomically distinct (Taxonomic distinctiveness – a measure of how unique a species is relative to other species)?

C. leucas is taxonomically distinguished from other distinct species due to particular morphological attributes, however due to the often subtle differences of morphology between Carcharhinus spp., this distinction is not always clear to the untrained eye. In particular, C. leucas can be mistaken for Carcharhinus amboinensis (Pigeye Shark) (Thorburn et al, 2004). As a result, it is important that protection is given to all whaler sharks to ensure it can be effective.

Legal Status

6. What is the species’ current conservation status under Australian and State/Territory Government legislation?

C. leucas is not listed under any Australian or State/Territory Government legislation.

7. Does the species have specific protection (e.g. listed on an annex or appendix) under other legislation or intergovernmental arrangements, e.g. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

C. leucas is listed as Near Threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List (Simpfendorfer & Burgess, 2005).

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