World Wednesday: A new species of shark has been discovered
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Scientists have recently discovered a new species of hammerhead shark off the coast of Belize, similar to the bonnethead, that seems to be stirring up some trouble in terms of protection and shark safekeeping. What makes this creature unique, though? Furthermore, why is it causing concerns about conservation? The answers to these questions, and additional information, as well, are as follows…
First of all, how was this new species of shark discovered? You see, according to an article written on www.prnewswire.com, “When scientists recently sequenced the DNA of what they believed to be bonnethead sharks in Belize, they were shocked to find that they are likely an entirely different species.” In other words, the new shark species was discovered on accident! You see, the bonnethead, “a small species of hammerhead found in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Latin America,” is what scientists originally believed the shark to be, until looking further into its DNA, that is, when they discovered that, in fact, they had stumbled upon this never before seen species.
Discovering a new species of any type of creature is always exciting, but, in this case, it also poses possible problems in terms of shark conservation. Why? In the words of Demian Chapman, lead researcher of the team responsible for finding the shark, “Now we have to define the range of each of these species individually and assess them independently against where the potential threats are. For example, there are published reports that bonnetheads have nearly been wiped out by unregulated fishing in Brazil. We do not know which species this is and our finding of a new species in Belize highlights that there could be more undescribed ones out there, each one facing a unique set of threats”(www.news.fiu.edu). Clearly, there is cause for concern when it comes to keeping this new species safe and alive.
The finding of this certain kind of shark has made scientists and researchers alike take into consideration how much of the ocean has yet to be explored, and, as Earthwatch CEO Scott Kania stated to the FIU Online Newspaper, “The research team’s discovery of a new shark species is a testament to how much we still need to learn about the world we live in.” He went on to say that, “While we can’t anticipate breakthrough findings as profound as this one, Earthwatch is committed to connecting citizens with scientists who seek to understand and conserve our planet.” He’s certainly correct about that, as, according to oceanservice.noaa.gov, “less than five percent” of our oceans have even been touched by scientists. This discovery is an exciting one for sure, yes. However, as is with science, there’s so much more in our vast world to explore.