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How safe are sharks and rays living in the marine protected area?

Backed by David Lang
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About This Project

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are being promoted for shark and ray conservation. However, MPA benefits for some species are still questionable due to unclear objectives set by varied stakeholders. Here, we will compliment the use of BRUVs with eDNA metabarcoding to evaluate shark and ray biodiversity in Gili Islands MPAs. Results will be used to determine the effectiveness of these MPAs as a conservation tool for coral reef sharks and rays.

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What is the context of this research?

Sharks and rays are among the most threatened groups of species in the oceans (1), with 59% listed in a threatened category by IUCN (2). Results from the first Global FinPrint Project showed that reef sharks are in severe decline globally, but are more commonly seen in marine protected areas (MPAs) than in unprotected areas (3, 4). Most MPAs in Indonesia were not designed with the needs of large mobile predators like reef sharks and rays in mind (5). We will resample Gili Islands, which was initially sampled in 2016, to see how the number of reef sharks and rays has changed over time and how MPA design features are related to shark and ray numbers and trends.

What is the significance of this project?

Sharks and rays have an important and major role in maintaining the ocean ecosystem and also serving as an indicator of ocean health (6). However, socio-economic and food security considerations pertaining to Indonesian communities add further layers of complexity to the management and conservation of these vulnerable species (7). Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a widely used tool for the protection of biodiversity as a strategy for protecting or restoring shark and ray populations (8). However, are sharks and rays really safe in the MPA? Using both BRUVs and eDNA metabarcoding to find different species of sharks and rays, both through footage and the molecular traces of the organisms, could help determine if the MPA is effective for sharks and rays.

What are the goals of the project?

This project aims to investigate the effectiveness of the MPA in providing sanctuary and protection to the reef shark and ray populations. The MPA's effectiveness will be measured by how the number of reef sharks has changed over time using BRUVs and eDNA metabarcoding. Combining these two non-destructive biomonitoring techniques will improve the assessment, as BRUVs have the advantage of providing visual evidence as well as the relative abundance of the reef shark and ray population using an index called MaxN (9). eDNA metabarcoding offers the advancement of detection for cryptic and/or rare species that may not be interested in the bait used in BRUVs from the extracellular material they expel to the environment (10).


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We are fundraising to cover eDNA sampling and laboratory activities to support research in Gili Matra, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. This eDNA activity will add valuable information to the existing project. The existing project already covered the cost of BRUVs equipment, bait, boat rental, accommodation, and flights. The sequencing cost for using the MinION™ Mk1C will be in-kind to this project from the Centre Laboratory of Sequencing, National Research and Innovation Agency through E-Layanan Sains, Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional, Indonesia.

Endorsed by

MPAs serve an important role in protecting marine biodiversity but accurately assessing their effectiveness can be a significant challenge. Improvements in biomonitoring methods is vital and this ambitious project aims to combine two such non-invasive methods, BRUVs and eDNA, for assessing the effectiveness of MPAs in protecting elasmobranch communities. The use of these cutting-edge technologies will provide novel insights into the recovery of these ecosystems and for future management strategies for elasmobranchs in this region.
This project has a lofty objective of utilising non-destructive biomonitoring techniques to comprehend and track the abundance of reef sharks and rays over an extended period of time as endemic species. I am convinced that the initiative will have a positive effect on the community and government by facilitating improved monitoring and assessment of reef sharks and rays in protected marine areas, particularly in Gili Matra, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

Project Timeline

This research is complementary project to existing BRUVS research. We will start the preparation in May 2024 and plan to conduct fieldwork (deploy BRUVs and collect eDNA samples) in October 2024. We will then start doing laboratory work in November–December 2024, and we expect to see the final results in early 2025.

Apr 22, 2024

Project Launched

May 01, 2024

Project preparation (permit, logistics, and itinerary)

Oct 15, 2024

Fieldwork (deploy BRUVs and collect eDNA samples)

Nov 15, 2024

DNA Extraction and PCR works

Nov 30, 2024

Library preparation and sequencing

Meet the Team

Andhika Prima Prasetyo
Andhika Prima Prasetyo
Associate Researcher


National Research and Innovation Agency
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Team Bio

Our team is made up of highly experienced professionals in the field of shark and ray research. They include an ecologist, a fisheries scientist, and a geneticist, each with more than ten years of competence in their respective areas. Collectively, we have undertaken a thorough investigation to comprehend and safeguard these renowned marine species. By incorporating multi-disciplinary viewpoints, we could comprehensively contribute to improving shark and ray conservation and management.

Andhika Prima Prasetyo

Andhika received his PhD on the development of molecular approaches to reduce illegal trade of shark and ray products in Indonesia in 2023. He has worked on research projects related to the elasmobranchii in Indonesia since 2015 when he started his MSc on assessing abundance of coral reef-associated sharks using Baited Remote Underwater Video with Global FinPrint Project. He joined Ministry for Marine Affairs and Fisheries in 2009 as researcher at Centre for Fisheries Research before merged to the NRIA in 2022 and joined Research Centre for Conservation of Marine and Inland Water Resources. He was interested on fisheries modelling as support to fisheries management policies. In 2009, he used genetic approaches to investigate elasmobranch species and helped suggest appropriate conservation and management measures to ensure their long-term benefit to ecosystems and communities and bring science closer to communities. Genetic undoubtably opens his eye to the fact that the limit in genetics is only our imagination.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

This research proposal is a complementary project to the ongoing BRUVS project

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