Previously unknown species: New sharks have been discovered off Australia

Status: 12/07/2022 12:19 PM

It is striped, rather small, and seems to live at much deeper depths than sharks known to science. The researchers who found it said the specimen, found off the west coast of Australia, is unique.

Researchers have discovered an unknown species of shark off the western coast of Australia. The Australian science agency CSIRO said the animal is a striped shark, which science has yet to describe.

A CSIRO spokesperson said the sample was seen and brought aboard on November 23 by the research vessel Investigator at Gascoyne Marine Park west of the Cape Range peninsula. The small, eye-catching shark is unique to Australia, according to CSIRO shark expert Will White. The discovered sample would therefore be “extremely important to science.” Talk about one of the “most exciting discoveries”.

The fish, which belongs to the bull shark family, is usually found in shallow waters. However, the shark that has now been discovered lives at a depth of more than 150 meters, “and we know nothing about their behavior,” White explained.

Previously known sharks had a maximum length of 120 cm. They spend most of their day camouflaged among rocks and algae on the sea floor and emerge at night to feed. “Australia has a really vast marine area and is home to some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet,” White said. “But we still know very little about what lives beneath the waves.”

Sharks are vital to the ecosystem

In total, research currently identifies about 500 species of sharks worldwide. Many of them, especially the blue shark, are now considered threatened. The reason is their fins and their flesh. Both are considered delicacies in many countries, which is why stocks have declined sharply due to hunting and fishing. This is one of the reasons why 184 countries decided at the CITES World Species Conference at the end of November to put about 100 species of sharks and rays under protection with immediate effect.

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Sharks are a very important part of the marine ecosystem because they act as fish stock regulators. When fishing, they kill mainly old and weak animals, which improves the health of the fish. Some species of sharks also feed on their carrion, which in turn prevents the spread of disease.

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