Discovered: New shark species

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Image Credit: California Academy of Sciences

At just over 1 foot long, this newly discovered species of shark (Bythaelurus giddingsi) is not likely to be featured in a remake of “Jaws”. The sharks were seen at depths over 1000 feet off the coast of the Galapagos Islands and belong to the catshark family. Seven specimens were collected and studied at the California Academy of Sciences and a description of their morphology and similarities with other species of catsharks is presented in a recent issue of Zootaxa.

“The discovery of a new shark species is always interesting, particularly at this time when sharks are facing such incredible human pressure,” said McCosker, Chair of Aquatic Biology at the Academy. “Many species have become locally rare and others verge on extinction due to their capture for shark-fin soup. The damage to food webs is dramatic, since sharks provide valuable ecological services as top-level predators–when they disappear, their niche is often filled by other species that further imbalance ecosystems. Most deepwater shark species are not very susceptible to overfishing; however, since this catshark’s range is restricted to the Galapagos, its population is likely limited in size, making it more susceptible than more widely distributed species.”

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Sources:
McCosker JE, Long DJ, Baldwin CC. Description of a new species of deepwater catshark, Bythaelurus giddingsi sp. nov., from the Gal√°pagos Islands (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae) Zootaxa 3221: 48-59, 2012.

California Academy of Sciences