Sri Lanka – Blue Resources Trust Field Station – Research & field work

Research topics

Key topics

  • Understanding biophysical variable influencing coral reef resilience in Kayankerni reef.
  • Mapping coral reef area, extent, and reef condition for prioritizing management.
  • Relationships between coastal ecosystems and habitat connectivity.
  • Determining fishing effort and pressure on reef-based fishery resources.
  • Documenting elasmobranch species diversity and population status of key fishery species.
  • Understanding pelagic fisheries, fishing effort and catch composition to support national level management policy.


Our partner, Blue Resources Trust, has clearances to conduct field research programs related to coral reefs, seagrass and fisheries in the Pasikudah area.

Project / task specific permits are required for the following activities:

  • Collection of protected species listed under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka.
  • Working within terrestrial and marine protected areas.
  • Export of specimens to laboratories outside Sri Lanka.

Permits may be obtained from the Department of Wildlife Conservation by fulfilling the below listed criteria. Please note that research permits may take up to 3 months for processing so must be applied for well in advance.

  • Submission of full project proposal
  • CV’s of all investigators and research assistants.
  • Letter of endorsement from the head of the institution conducting the research
  • Letter of endorsement from a registered Sri Lankan institution as a collaborative partner
  • Include a scientific investigator working with a registered Sri Lankan institution
  • Agreement to share research findings with the Department of Wildlife Conservation

BRT will support research permits and act as a collaborative local partner. Projects must support long term BRT research interests, meet its ethics and scientific requirements and include at least one BRT and one EnScope scientist as an investigator.

Funding opportunities

Scientists collaborating on research projects with our partner, BRT, and who provide support through technical expertise or access to laboratory facilities may be eligible for free accommodation and board, and a partial or full waiver of research costs. This will be assessed on a case by case basis based on the research needs of BRT. In such instances, staff accommodation will be provided at the field station.

Ongoing research

Sri Lanka Manta and Mobula Ray Project

Daniel Fernando
Blue Resources Trust

• Evaluate the complexity and scale of the mobula ray fishery in Sri Lanka
• Develop a data bank of genetic tissue from mobula rays
• Develop the first global identification guide book for all mobulid species
• Develop a global genetic kit for identification of mobula rays worldwide

Elasmobranch Fisheries

Daniel Fernando
Blue Resources Trust

• Determine the diversity and magnitude of elasmobranch fishery in Sri Lanka
• Assess fishing gear and sourcing areas in elasmobranch fishery
• Conduct genetic and stable isotope assays for species identification and analysis of trophic groups
• Updating the species ID checklist and identify range extensions of species not previously recorded in Sri Lankan waters
• Identify new elasmobranch species

Coral Reef Monitoring and Conservation

Nishan Perera
Blue Resources Trust

• Understanding factors affecting resilience of coral reefs to coral bleaching and climate change
• Assess connectivity of habitats and habitat use by major reef fish groups
• Leverage long term data to understand coral reef community phase shifts when subjected to natural and anthropogenic stress
• Use reef resilience data for selection of conservation areas and development of adaptive management plans
• Promote local level conservation by encouraging stewardship and better practices by local fishing communities and tourist operators

Past research


Seagrass Rapid Assessment

Dr. Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University

Dr. Richard R.K.F Unsworth
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University

Susantha Udagedara
Blue Resources Trust

Benjamin L. Jones
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University

• Determine links between seagrass associated fauna and local food security
• Used baited underwater video system for rapid habitat assesment and fish census
• Conducted socio-economic assessment through local household interviews and fish market landing survey


Global Fin Print shark and ray assessment

Daniel Fernando
Blue Resources Trust

Nishan Perera
Blue Resources Trust

• Develop a predictive model to determine factors influencing reef elasmobranch density and diversity
• Validate models using Baited Remote Underwater Video survey data
• Develop and optimise elasmobranch diversity management plans
• Use global and local datasets to understand functional relationships among trophic groups to understand the global ecological importance of elasmobranchs.

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