Aquatic Animal Health

Theme Leader A/Prof Ellen Ariel

The Aquatic Animal Health team within the CSTFA conduct research which enables fisheries, aquaculture and Australian quarantine to make informed decisions in regards to stock structure, disease management and import regulations. Researchers are experts in bacteriology, virology and parasitology and integrate this knowledge with practical, applied research to assist with biosecurity and risk assessment, disease diagnosis, management and treatment.

Associate Professor Ariel leads the JCU Turtle Health Research Centre.

Our Research Focus

Aquaculture is the fastest production sector in the world, particularly in the tropics. However, infectious diseases cause considerable loss to the aquaculture industry and pose latent risks to continued production. At James Cook University, our expertise ranges from viral and bacterial pathogens of crustaceans, to metazoan parasites of fishes.

Our team also specialises in virology, aquatic epidemiology and general health of sea turtles and freshwater turtles. Current research topics are ranavirus, chelonid herpesvirus 5, normal intestinal microflora, bacteriophage treatment, health assessment criteria for turtles, and leeches as vectors of disease. Dr Ariel is the team leader of the Turtle Health Team, and instigator of the new research facility: "The Caraplace".

Our aquatic health specialists undertake sponsored and contract R&D and partner closely with industry to develop solutions that lower disease risk. Projects recently conducted involving industry include development and testing of a vaccine to prevent VNN in grouper, , development of integrated management solutions for tropical marine aquaculture, identification of parasite risks associated with the import of ornamental fishes and optimising procedures involved in assessing turtle health and treatment of sick animals.

Current Research Projects

  • Strategic approaches to prioritising and managing disease risks posed by the importation of ornamental fish
  • Establishing Baseline Health Assessment Criteria for Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas)
  • Tropical cleaner fish and shrimp as controls of ectoparasites in aquaculture
  • Development of Preventative Vacing and iRNA to prevent Viral Nervous Necrosis in giant QLD grouper
  • Handling Mortality in Redclaw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) from farms
  • Establishing Baseline Health Assessment Criteria for Green Turtles (Chelonia Mydas)
  • Flatback turtle's whereabouts: Identifying migration pathways and critical foraging habitats to protect

Our Students

Katie Motson image

Katie Motson

Dewi Syahidah image

Dewi Syahidah

Adam Wilkinson image

Adam Wilkinson

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Rebecca Diggins

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Pauline Narvaez