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Broadnose Sevengill Sharks in South Australia 2017

September 17 2017

Our mission is to use citizen science to identify and catalog sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) in south Australia. The purpose is to inspire others to get involved in cataloging this 'near threatened' (IUCN) species.

September 17 2017


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Debriefing Stage

I am pocupine fish...

filmed at Rye Pier

I love these little videos, Barbara!

Mission Underway

Pier diving videos

Great job, Barb! You should be proud to be part of a pioneering expedition to test beta models of the OpenROV. Some day, a few years from now, you will be able to look back and say, 'I was part of the early days of OROV.'


Due to weather conditions we were not able to go out on any boats to seek the sevengill sharks.

See the next stage posts for some of the video taken guring the pier dives and for lessons learned and valuable information gained.

Mornington Peninsula

Day 4 - Dive the Trident at both the Rosebud Pier and the Flinder Pier, Dive Site

Day 5 - TBD

Day 6 - Conditions permitting, head out with Oz Fish TV seeking broadnose sevengill sharks

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Day 3 - Port Albert fun dives and transit to Mornington Peninsula

Early morning fun dive

There was no wind but it was a very low tide. This created a different set of challenges. Note: Plan you trip taking the tides into account. Slack tide is best.

At the end of the dive I rinsed the Trident and managed to misplace my ballast weights.

Makeshift ballast weight work around

Here is how I resolved the missing ballast weights. Always bring a backup set! Find a sheet of lead, cut into a triangle for an exact weight of 85 grams. Drill 4 holes into the corners. Use fishing line to secure it to the Trident (see attached images)

Midday fun dive

Took the Trident with the makeshift ballast weight. It performed pretty well but the wind was picking up and the tide was coming in, so I don't know if some of my trim issues were due to drag and shifting of the makeshift ballast weight.

Drive to Mornington Peninsula

After the two fun dives, I headed to west where I hope to do an actual boat dive on wednesday. I am hoping the Trident god will bless that dive.

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Day 2 - travel from Lakes Entrance to Port Albert

Unable to dive at Port Albert due to tide and wind

Drive from Lakes Entrance to Port Albert. The town is pretty small but has a boat launch ramp and a public pier. The wind was a good 15 knots, maybe more, and there were small white caps. The tide was changing and the water was very murky. So no dive today.

I will go to the pier fairly early in the morning, hopefully getting a dive in, before heading back to the Melbourne area where I hope to have a lot more opportunity to seek the broadnose sevengill shark.


Day 1 - Seeking Sevengills on Lake Tyers Beach

Headed out with a local, Glenn, who contributes information to the "white tagging" program when they end up with accidental by-catch. The broadnose sevengills catches are similar. In both cases it is catch and release.

Glenn, brought his rod and bait and gave it a couple of attempts from the beach but nothing was biting. The water has warmed up and the sharks have most likely moved south. But he put me in touch with a TV producer in the Melbourne area. If the weather holds we will be going out mid-week.

(Stay tuned for some shot of the beach)

Day 1 - fun dive at Lake Tyers

After no results at the beach, I headed up to Lake Tyers and went to one of the boat launches. I dove the Trident for about an hour. The water was pretty murky so most of the footage didn't turn out to well. Keep an eye out for a video shortly.

Day 1 - pier fun dive at Lakes Entrance

I just returned from Lakes Entrance public pier after several successful fun dives. The tide was going out and the wind had picked up, so the water was shallow, there was surface wind plus current, and there was a lot of floating algae in the water.

Even so I got some decent footage.

Check out the little moon jellyfish.

Added link to video but I am not seeing it in the post. Here it is.

Moon Jellyfish - Lakes Entrance public pier

Day 1 - Lakes Entrance public pier

I have arrived in Lakes Entrance. My hosts have been very helpful providing phone numbers for local charters who might know where and when to find the sevengill sharks. I am heading down to the public pier near the Main Entrance Walk.

Later today I will be meeting with a local, Glenn, who has observed the sevengills being fished at Lake Tyers Coastal Reserve. Since this is a beach I am not sure if I will be able to use the Trident to observe them but I can take still shots using my digital camera.

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I hope you get a chance to fly Trident! But eager to hear what you find either way.

Day 0 - Melbourne to Lakes Entrance

Arrived in Melbourne with almost all of my equipment. I lost my cell phone in the airport in Cairns and was unable to initiate the next phase of my two part expedition, in Australia. Luckily, Google Maps has Offline maps and navigates using general local information on my tablet (even though it doesn't have a sim card :-0 )

I will arrive in Lakes Entrance in the mid-afternoon. I hope to meet up with a local researcher there who may be able to help me connect with local fisherman who are catching sevengill sharks.

There are two types of sevengills in southern Australia: the sharpnose and the bluntnose. I am seeking the bluntnose but I am not sure what I will be encountering.

Preparation Stage

Test dive

Okay, I learned several things on the Australia: Far North Reefs 2017

  • Practice, practice, practice (it builds "muscle memory"
  • Ballast weights are a necessity
  • Surface conditions are important

So today, I had the opportunity to play with the Trident in a pool. It definitely helped build muscle memory.

Video to be uploaded in the next couple of days.

Final preparation for an intenational flight was a bit challenging. Things to consider:

  • Do your connecting domestic flights allow for the same number of checked and carry-on bags?
  • Are the allowed weights the same for all segments?
  • What must you carry on and what can you check?

I am also going to be scuba diving. So I have a lot of gear that weighs a lot. I had to make the following hard decisions:

  • Carry-on must include the entire Trident system, including the table, chargers, and memory cards
  • Carry-on also needed to include my top-side backup cameras
  • Underwater housing, lights, and even regulator went into my checked bags. I would not normally do this.
  • Minimal change of clothes, tioletries, etc.
  • Pretty much anything that can be replaced or bought at the destination went into the checked bags.

An alternative that can also be helpful when travelling internationally is to bring along a sherpa/tender. Not only will they help you with getting the gear around but you can use their bags to distrubute the gear, and get more into the carry-ons.

Here is the video for packing all of the other "must have" camera gear for carry-on.

Packing must have camera equipment

Thanks for sharing all this Barbara! I always think the packing and preparing is so interesting, but many scientists and filmmakers never show this part of a trip.

Received the Trident OpenROV underwater drone yesterday. Tonight I will set it up and make sure it talks to my laptop. I'm not sure if I will be able to dive it before getting on the plane but I will have lots of practice on the first part of the Australia trip [Australia: Far North Reefs 2017](

So excited!!

Thank you to the entire OpenROV team for helping me get setup for this expedition.

Good luck and, bon voyage! Great job setting this up. I posted about it on the American Elasmobranch Society FB page.

Good luck and safe journeys Barbara!

After several weeks of research and contacting marine biologist across the globe from California, USA to False Bay, South Africa, to Australia and Tasmania it is beginning to look like this expedition may be more concerned with providing evidence of the absence of the sevengill shark for southern Australia waters. At least in concentrations previously seen.

One important tenant of science research is documenting the absence of something. This is called "Zero-data". This data is vital because it can identify seasons when a species is not present in a location. Or it can provide trends that indicate a shift in a species known behavior. If a baseline has been established in prior research then this data may indicate a "shifting baseline."

The term “shifting baseline” refers to the situation where we observe the natural world as it is now, often forgetting the former state of populations or habitats, and measure change against a ‘baseline’ condition that has often already changed or declined. It was first defined by fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia in 1995. Shark Savers on the Importance of ‘Zero Data’

Although I hope to have verifiable encounter data, using the Trident OpenROV video feed, and submit it to Ocean Sanctuaries Sevengill Shark Identificaiton Project, I may have to be satisfied with "Zero-data". Both are important and relevant.

With just a few weeks to go on an international expedition to the opposite side of the world and the opposite hemisphere there are a number of things to consider:

  • Flight time
  • How to adjust to sleep to a 14 hour time difference
  • How to pack camera equipment when you have a charter flight weight limit that is more than 50 lbs less that your internatiional flight
  • Cellular providers and data service
  • Packing lists (with weight, see above)
  • Dietary concerns
  • Weather in both the North and South of the continent (trip part A and part B)
  • Local contacts and resources

Also, can I take a boat out in Marine Protected Areas? Do I need a fishing license eventhuough I am only going to take video?

Western Australia Fishing Rules, Sharks

South Australia Fishing Rules

With just a few weeks to go on an international expedition to the opposite side of the world and the opposite hemisphere there are a number of things to consider:

  • Flight time
  • How to adjust to sleep to a 14 hour time difference
  • How to pack camera equipment when you have a charter flight weight limit that is more than 50 lbs less that your internatiional flight
  • Cellular providers and data service
  • Packing lists (with weight, see above)
  • Dietary concerns
  • Weather in both the North and South of the continent (trip part A and part B)
  • Local contacts and resources

The IUCN request was granted and the spatial data has been downloaded.

Now I need to figure out how to view the data. This is new territory for me.

If anyone out there knows what tools a citizen scientist can use to access the data I would be very appreciative of any assistance.


2017-09-19 Requested one-time access to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species data on sevengill sharks.

The purpose of the data is to identify where the sevengill sharks have been seen in the past, specifically in South Australia.

For the past month, we have reached out to prior researchers in Australia, and to the general diving community. We have been trying to find who has recently spotted or seen fisherman with sevengills. So far, everyone says they are on the south cost of Australia, but no researchers have been involved in gathering data on sevengills for over five years now.

We know that the shark has been reported in temperate water all over the world.

We hope to have a Trident OpenROV so we won't need to use SCUBA. A small boat, in coastal waters, should be good enough to get out into the areas where the sharks have recently been seen.

We are looking for contacts in South Australia for our November 2017 Expedition. If you can help please comment or contact me.

Expedition Background

Sevengill Shark Expedition South Australia 2017

Here is what we have done so far:

  • Pick the dates (Nov 2017)
  • Booked our flights
  • Talked with the OpenExplorer Folks
  • Began researching where the sevengill sharks have been seen (and how long ago)
  • Started making a list of equipment
  • Started this Expedition Project

How it all started...

The Sevengill Shark Identification Project

In 2010 Ocean Sanctuaries established a marine citizen science project to identify individual sevengill sharks. This project is unique in several ways:

  • identifies individual sharks
  • using photographs and video only
  • uses citizen scientist volunteers

Ocean Sanctuaries is successfully tracking individual sevengill sharks in San Diego, California, USA as well as False Bay, South Africa. Although this shark has a wide range, along the continental shelves in shallow waters off the West Coast of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, very little actual, reliable data exists. Currently the World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the Sevengill shark as “Data Deficient”. Data is lacking in most regions, making it difficult to determine the overall status of this species. However, it is currently assessed as “Near Threatened” in the eastern Pacific Ocean.” Sevengill shark.

To learn more about this shark, Ocean Sanctuaries, and citizen science, check out: Using Citizen Science to Track Sevengill Sharks

To learn how we successfully identify individual sharks without using tags, check out: Sevengill Shark Identification Methodology

We have successfully engaged volunteer scuba divers in submitting their photos and video of sevengill sharks in Southern California, USA and False Bay, South Africa. You can check out our data at The Sevengill Shark Identification Project.

We knew it was time to get people involved in identifying sevengill sharks in South Australia so we are on an expedition to inspire others to get involved!


Hey Michael! I'd love to share some photos in our newletters. Could you post some/share some? Thank you :)

This is very cool. Can't wait to see how it goes!

Best of luck!