Zebra Sharks Make A Successful Comeback To The Waters Of Raja Ampat, Indonesia

In a huge milestone for the shark re-wilding project, two Endangered, female zebra shark (Stegostoma tigrinum) pups have successfully hatched in Indonesia. The world-first initiative, known as StAR Project (Stegostoma tigrinum Augmentation Recovery Project) aims to rewild the waters of Raja Ampat, Indonesia. The pups bred at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, were shipped from Australia ahead of their return to the wild.

The latest shipment follows the remarkable success of the program’s first arrival of sharks from SEA LIFE Sydney – who successfully hatched and have been nurtured, and reintroduced into the pristine waters of Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

“We’re so proud to support this multi-agency global effort in marine conservation. Never has human involvement provided so much hope for a shark species. To see sharks that were bred at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, now hatched and swimming in the wild, where they once faced regional extinction is incredibly rewarding.”

Taylah Starc, Aquarist at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Recent research by ReShark and the Conservation Planning Specialist Group, estimates just 20 individual zebra sharks remain in Raj Ampat. Without human input it could take 100 years to recover the species and there would still be a 23% chance of extinction. With help from public aquariums including SEA LIFE Sydney, the program hopes to hit the viable population size of 500 zebra sharks in just 10 years, which is the minimum required for a healthy and genetically diverse population with help from public aquariums including SEA LIFE Sydney.

The success of the StAR Project is a testament to the unwavering commitment of SEA LIFE in its mission to breed, rescue and protect marine wildlife and habitats. By leveraging expertise in marine biology, conservation science, and collaborative partnerships, this groundbreaking endeavour is paving the way to revitalise this endangered shark species population.

"With the safe arrival of the latest pups, Lingka and Spotty Dotty, we are witnessing a beacon of hope for the future of zebra sharks in Raja Ampat. With pilot projects like this, it is hoped we can establish similar initiatives for other marine species which are also sadly in decline.”

Taylah Starc, Aquarist at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

For more information on StAR Project and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium's conservation efforts, please visit: www.visitsealife.com/sydney/conservation/local-conservation-projects/the-star-project