Symposium information

The SASRS will be composed of a combination of oral and poster presentations, workshops, and public events – with plenty of added fun and adventure planned for attendees. Keynote presentations will be scheduled throughout the Symposium.

Oral presentations, poster presentations, workshops, and other attendee events will be held in the Two Oceans Aquarium’s auditorium and in front of its iconic exhibits.

Be sure to take note of important dates, fees and general attendee information.

Please email us on [email protected] with any questions.

Theme: Elasmobranchs in the blue economy

In a developing society, the establishment of a “blue economy”, the sustainable use of the ocean’s resources to ensure the growth and improvement of livelihoods is crucial. Hand-in-hand with this critical need is the need to conserve and protect the health of the marine ecosystem.

Sharks, rays and other elasmobranchs fill vital roles in this ecosystem; from apex predators and keystone species, to scavengers and charasmatic conservation flagships, elasmobranchs are both inherently affected by, and in turn affect the blue economy.

The 5th annual Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium invites experts from all aspects of marine ecology and ocean resource development to share their knowledge and experience in these fields to better elucidate the fundamental links between elasmobranchs and the blue economy.

Session themes:

Travel grants for African students

The 5th Southern African Shark and Ray Symposium (SASRS) will make travel grants available to post-graduate students (MSc and PhD students) from the African continent, outside of South Africa. These travel grants have been generously sponsored by the Save our Seas Foundation, who will contribute between R5 000 and R10 000 towards travel expenses for a select number of students who apply.

This contribution includes full or partial coverage of return flights and three nights’ accommodation within a 10km radius of the venue, but excludes symposium registration costs, the gala dinner, daily lunches, and transport within Cape Town. Applicants for these grants must also submit an abstract for oral presentation.

To apply for this contribution, please email [email protected] with the following information:

  • A letter of motivation for this funding (including details of flights and accommodation costs), written by the applicant
  • A letter of endorsement from the applicant’s academic supervisor
  • Proof of submitted abstract for oral presentation at the 5th SASRS to be submitted no later than 19 June 2019
  • Proof of applicant’s registration at an African university
  • A copy of the applicant’s passport

Please note: Applicants who are awarded a travel grant must register for the Presentation Skills workshop at the 5th SASRS.


The below programme is provisional and subject to change. The final programme will be made available closer to the Symposium dates.

Note that Keynote speaker presentations are 45min and other oral presentations are 15min in duration

Monday 7 October 2019

Time Event Presenter
8.00 Registration All
8.00 Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tour Booking needed
9.30 Welcome Nathalie Viljoen
9.45 KEYNOTE: Securing the future of sharks in the blue economy: the importance of collaboration. Alison Kock
THEME: Conservation and telemetry Maryke Musson
10.40 Talk 1: Fear at the Top: Killer whale predation on white sharks induces emigration and a shift in mesopredator composition in a South African embayment. Alison Towner
10.55 Talk 2: Refuges and risks for tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) in South Africa’s new Marine Protected Area seascape. Ryan Daly
11.10 Talk 3: The protection of chondrichthyan biodiversity in an expanding South African ocean economy. Meaghen McCord
11.25 TEA
11.50 Talk 4: “Emerging Technologies in Acoustic Telemetry: enabling sustainable use of our ocean ecosystem with Real-Time Data” Silvana Germana
12.05 Talk 5: Using local ecological knowledge to describe the historical distribution and current status of sawfishes (Pristidae) in Madagascar. Ruth Leeney
12.20 Talk 6: A comparative study of spatiotemporal behavior among two oceanic pelagic predators, Isurus oxyrinchus and Prionace glauca, off South Africa. Ola Lundemo
12.35 Talk 7: Emerging movement patterns of data-limited stingray species. Taryn Murray
12.50 LUNCH
THEME: Biology / Physiology Alison Towner
13.15 Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tour Booking needed
14.00 Talk 8: Surgical implantation of acoustic transmitters and the physiological response to capture and tagging in a large Batoid elasmobranch Dipturus intermedius (flapper skate) off the West coast of Scotland. Georgina Cole
14.15 Talk 9: Wound healing in Pyjama shy sharks (Poroderma africanum) post-surgery for sham Vemco tagging at the Two Oceans Aquarium. Brandon Spolander
14.30 Talk 10: Transformation of the uterus in non-gravid and gravid C. taurus (Ragged-tooth) females along the east coast of South Africa. Kristina Naidoo
14.45 Talk 11: Behavioural functions of cephalic fins in a population of reef manta rays, Mobula alfredi, in Závora, Mozambique
Michelle Carpenter
15.00 Talk 12: Conservation of ancient relationships – elasmobranchs and parasites.
Bjoern Schaeffer
15.15 TEA
THEME: Fisheries Alison Kock
15.40 Talk 13: An overview of Namibian pelagic longline fishery for shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) in the southeast Atlantic Ocean. Charmaine Jagger
15.55 Talk 14: Can the IUCN Red List status of sharks be determined objectively? Henning Winker
16.10 Talk 15: Ecology, biology, socio-economic and supply chain characterization of elasmobranch fisheries in Ghana’s west coast. Issah Seidu
16.25 Talk 16: Update and review of the NPOA for Sharks South Africa. Charlene De Silva
16.40 Talk 17: Video monitoring in the South African demersal trawl industry and its use in monitoring elasmobranch communities commonly caught as bycatch Michelle Lee
17.00 Housekeeping Nathalie Viljoen
17.10 POSTER SESSION Skretting Diversity Hall
19.00 WELCOMING EVENT Predator Exhibit

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Time Event Presenter
8.00 Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tour Booking needed
9.00 Announcements Nathalie Viljoen
9.15 KEYNOTE: Heading into deep water: Elasmobranch fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean, and the need for science-based conservation. Rhett Bennet, Dave Van Beuningen Michael Markovina
THEME: Conservation & Telemetry Paul Cowley
10.00 Talk 1: Enrico Gennari
10.15 Talk 2: Pilot survey of an aggregation of endangered Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks at Protea Banks on the east coast of South Africa. Summer Newton
10.30 Talk 3: The great white shark count: estimating the abundance of the white shark in southern Africa with a model integrating several long-term datasets – preliminary results Dylan Irion
10.45 Talk 4: Creatures of habit: Multi-seasonal residency patterns of an apex predatory shark (Carcharhinus leucas) Ryan Daly
11.00 TEA
THEME: Sharks & Humans Sarah Warries
11.30 Talk 5: The curious incidents of shark-human interactions: a historical analysis and current day survey on shark-human interactions and perceptions. Maryke Musson
11.45 Talk 6: Presentation of innovative solutions tested in Reunion Island towards the shark risk management. Michael Hoarau
12.00 Talk 7: “Attitudes and behaviour towards shark conservation among scuba divers” Flippo Bargnesi
12.15 Talk 8: Shark Spotters: successfully reducing spatial overlap between white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and recreational water users in False Bay, South Africa. Tamlyn Engelbrecht
12.30 Talk 9: The preventive shark control program of Reunion Island. David Guyomard
12.45 LUNCH
13.00 Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tour Booking needed
THEME: Sharks & Humans Enrico Gennari
13.50 Talk 10: Public perception and monetary values of the shark nets towards beach tourism at the Durban beaches. Zodidi Gwayise
14.05 Talk 11: Trophic ecology of tiger and bull sharks Island and shark risk management in Reunion. Sebastian Jaquemet
14.20 Talk 12: Catch trends of whitespotted wedgefish Rhynchobatus djiddensis, caught in the KwaZulu-Natal bather protection programme. Amanda Khuzwayo
14.35 Talk 13: Spatial protections designed for charismatic species must consider habitat to benefit chondrichthyan biodiversity. Meaghen McCord
14.50 Talk 14: Automated Shark Spotting: exploring the development of a low-cost computer-vision based shark detection system for fixed cameras. Sarah Warries
15.10 TEA
THEME: Genetics & Identification Meaghen McCord
15.50 Talk 15: Shark Spotters: successfully reducing spatial overlap between white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and recreational water users in False Bay, South Africa. Tamaryn Asbury
16.05 Talk 16: Investigating reproductive philopatry in a coastal shark by integration of genetic and tag-recapture data. Juliana Klein
16.20 Talk 17: Species identification of threatened wedgefish (Rhinidae: Rhynchobatus) in the western Indian Ocean. Katie Gledhill
16.35 Talk 18: Species delineation among two southern African endemic sandsharks, Acroteriobatus annulatus and Acroteriobatus blochii. Michaela Van Staden
16.50 Talk 19: Did Nicole get lost? Population connectivity between white sharks from South Africa and Australia. Sara Andreotti
17.05 Housekeeping … Nathalie Viljoen
19.00 PUBLIC EVENT I & J Oceans Exhibit

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Time Event Presenter
8.00 Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tour Booking needed
9.00 Announcements Nathalie Viljoen
9.15 WORKSHOP 1: Katie Gledhill
10.45 TEA
11.30 WORKSHOP 2: Presentations skills – all HeavyChef
12.30 LUNCH
13.00 Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tour Booking needed
13.30 Presentations skills – students only HeavyChef
15.00 Housekeeping … Nathalie Viljoen
19.00 GALA DINNER I&J Oceans Exhibit

Poster Presentations – 7 October

Poster presentations will take place on Monday October at 17h00 in the Two Oceans Aquarium’s Skretting Diversity Gallery.

Poster 1 A comparison of spermatogenic stages of mature male Scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini) from Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa with other staged sharks. Helene Coetzee
Poster 2 Marine plastic pollution:  a review of plastic debris found in sharks caught from the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Protection Programme. Tsepo Mmambo
Poster 3 An assessment of sharks and rays in Zavora, Mozambique: Evaluating distribution patterns and conservation needs. Nakia Cullain
Poster 4 Evidence of Závora Bay as a critical site for manta rays in Mozambique. Michelle Carpenter
Poster 5 The Demersal Shark longline Fishery commercial catch and effort data. Melissa Meyer
Poster 6 Comparing the spatial arrangements of ampullae of Lorenzini on several species of South African elasmobranchs. Natasha Pindral
Poster 7 “Ecoinformatic and citizen science to boost shark research in South Africa” Fillipo Bargnesi
Poster 8 Accessing conservation status and developing awareness of sharks and rays in North Mozambique. Joao Macuio
Poster 9 Video monitoring in the South African demersal trawl industry and its use in monitoring elasmobranch communities commonly caught as bycatch. Michelle Lee
Poster 10 Evidence for interspecific hybridisation: a cause for concern for the southern African endemic catshark genus Haploblepharus. Michaela Van Staden
Poster11 Conversion factors for dressed to total lengths and weights for smooth-hound shark, Mustelus mustelus and soupfin shark, Galeorhinus galeus, within South African waters. Yolanda De La Cruz
Poster 12 Conservation of ancient relationships – elasmobranchs and parasites. Bjoern Schaeffner
Poster 13   Jennifer Keeping

Important dates

1 May 2019Early bird registration closes
19 June 2019Abstract submission deadline
19 June 2019Travel grant application deadline
19 July 2019Abstract acceptance
31 August 2019 Final registration date
31 August 2019T-shirt order deadline
7 to 9 October 20195th Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium
7 October 2019Welcome evening at 18h30
8 October 2019Public event at 18h30 (details TBA)
9 October 2019Gala dinner at 19h00

Registration fees

ItemClosing DateCost
Early bird registration (professional)1 May 2019ZAR 1 200
Early bird registration (student)1 May 2019ZAR 850
Late registration (professional)31 August 2019ZAR 1 500
Late registration (student) 31 August 2019 ZAR 950
Gala dinner 31 August 2019 ZAR 250
Gala dinner accompanying person 31 August 2019 ZAR 250
Symposium T-shirt31 August 2019ZAR 200
Public event (to be announced)TBATBA
Portswood validated parking (per day)Mid-SeptemberZAR 65

Abstracts & Presentation information

Abstract submissions are open – please get your abstracts to the Symposium committee before 19 June. Abstracts can be submitted to [email protected].

Abstract submission format

Presenters may give both an oral presentation and poster presentation should they wish.

Abstracts need to be submitted as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) file with editing enabled. The submitted abstract should contain the following:

  • Presentation title (no more than 20 words)
  • Presentation format (oral, poster or both)
  • Session theme preference
  • Name/s, institutional affiliation/s and contact details or author/s
  • Name of presenter
  • Abstract of 200 to 300 words, providing sufficient information for the content of your presentation to be well represented.

If you plan on submitting abstracts for multiple presentations, please do so in seperate documents.

Oral presentations

Oral presentations have been allocated 15 minutes each. Time management is vital, so we ask that you aim to limit your presentations to 12 minutes and allow three minutes for questions and discussion. Oral presenters are urged to give more time to the objectives of their studies and scientific results obtained rather than to literature review, materials and methods and /or description of the study sites.  Presentation slides must be submitted as Microsoft PowerPoint files and compatible with Windows 10, and can be submitted at registration or before the session when they will be presented.

Poster presentations

Poster presentations will be held in a dedicated session at the Symposium. Posters will be displayed variously throughout the Symposium. Presenters should hand over their posters to the poster venue technician on the first day of the Symposium, before the official welcoming event. Standard poster size is A1 (841 x 594mm / 33.1 x 23.4in). Each poster should contain the title, author(s) name and address of the presenter (institution, city, country). If possible, attach a passport-sized photograph of the presenter to the upper right-hand corner of the poster for easy identification during the presentation session. Posters can be handed in at registration on 7 October 2019.

Keynote speakers

Alison Kock

Cape Research Centre, SAIAB, iCWild

Securing the future of sharks in the blue economy: The importance of collaboration

Alison Kock is a marine biologist at the Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks and an Honorary Research Associate at the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity and the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa, University of Cape Town. Her current research focuses on marine protected area effectiveness and the role of top predators in marine ecosystems. She is a member of several national scientific working groups including the Top Predator and National Marine Biodiversity Scientific Working Groups and the Seabird Technical Team. She is also a committee member of Shark Spotters and the Global Shark Movement Project.

Rhett Bennett, Dave van Beuningen & Mike Markovina

Wildlife Conservation Society

Heading into deep water: Elasmobranch fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean

Growing up at the coast, fishing, snorkelling and surfing, Rhett developed a passion for the marine environment, which led to a PhD in Ichthyology at Rhodes University. Rhett’s work focuses on long-term monitoring, marine protected areas, ecological effects of fishing and animal movement behaviour, for applied conservation. This work has involved policy development, underwater and fishery surveys, and tagging of fishes, sharks and rays, throughout southern Africa. Rhett coordinates the Western Indian Ocean shark program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, including science-based, applied conservation and policy development, to improve the conservation status of sharks and rays in the WIO.

Dave has worked for several shark-focused NGOs throughout his career, contributing to research on various species as well as human-shark mitigation measures. He then completed an MSc in conservation biology at the University of Cape Town and now works for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Western Indian Ocean shark and ray program as a conservationist. He contributes to various aspects of the program, including gap analyses to identify data gaps and research priorities for sharks and rays, and conducting field research in multiple WIO countries, all with the ultimate goal of improving the conservation status of elasmobranchs in the region.

Mike completed an MSc in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University, followed by fisheries research and law enforcement for WCS in Gabon. He spent two years documenting fisheries conservation challenges and solutions, across 42 countries throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. He then led the East African Marine Transect Expedition, which contributed open access baseline data on East Africa’s coral reefs. Mike spent six years as a fisheries consultant to the Indian Ocean Commission’s EU funded Project SmartFish, focusing on fisheries law enforcement and organised fisheries crime. A dive instructor for 18 years and passionate underwater photographer, Mike now heads up the WCS Tanzania Marine Program.


These workshops are available to Symposium attendees who have registered for them. More details will become available closer to the time.

Pre-Symposium: Acoustic Telemetry Workshop (VEMCO)

  • Date: Sunday 6 October
  • Time: 13h00 – 17h00
  • Venue: Tranquility, Two Oceans Aquarium
  • Description: VEMCO Acoustic Telemetry Technology and Applications
  • Hosts: Silvana Germana, VEMCO Sales Consultant

Refreshments will be served. Signup is required.

Registration is free but limited to 20 attendees. Please contact Silvana at [email protected] or Enrico at [email protected] to sign-up