Coast to Coral: Saving Sawfish -Harnessing citizen science to protect endangered species



Nikki Biskis is a PhD candidate at the University of Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast campus working with Dr Kathy Townsend and Dr Bonnie Holmes of UniSC and Dr Barbara Wueringer of Sharks And Rays Australia. Her work involves tying together field work in the remote river systems of Cape York and the east coast of Queensland with citizen science and historical ecology for species distribution modelling.

Nikki received her bachelor’s in biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and her master’s in medical sciences at Boston University School of Medicine. Before moving to Australia, she split her time between working as the assistant director of a high school in California, and volunteering in curation within the palaeontology lab at San Diego Natural History Museum.


Sawfishes are icons of northern Australia, threatened with extinction due to both targeted and non-targeted fishing. These animals have been protected in Queensland since 2009, but as their tooth-studded rostrum is potentially valuable, and bycatch difficult to avoid with current gear, evidence of illegal take is ongoing. With populations now fragmented and remote, field work alone cannot gather the data necessary for distribution assessments. But, by incorporating confiscated ‘trophy’ saws, catches from recreational fishers, and ranger monitoring, we can gather a better picture of where threats to extant populations lie. This study conducted over 2015-2022 represents a collaboration by Sharks And Rays Australia, UniSC, Queensland Dept of Fisheries and 8 Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger groups to gather the data necessary to build contemporary risk maps in QLD.


Virtual doors (zoom) open at 6.25pm for a 6:30 pm start.

Bring a mate and share in the discovery!

At Reef Check Australia we’re all about inspiring our mates and we love to read your thoughts! So, share your favourite parts about the night and tag us! Reef Check Australia #coasttocoral

This initiative is hosted by Reef Check Australia, and proudly supported by oh so many groups including the City of Gold Coast, Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd, Sunshine Coast Council's Environment Levy partnerships grant, The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and Townsville City Council.

Don't forget if you know of any amazing researchers (aren't they all?) who are willing to share their work, please let us know.

For more information contact

May 14, 2024 at 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Will you come?