March 28, 2012
Newly Found Hammerhead Shark Species Endangered

You might think that in the 21st century it should be possible to discover a shark species. Surely big fish have been examined closely enough that all the major fish species have been identified. But no. A new shark species that looks like the scalloped hammerhead has 20 fewer vertebrae (170 versus 190) and they are unfortunately both endangered due to overfishing to get their fins.

Identity confusion between a new, yet unnamed shark species, originally discovered off the eastern United States by Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (NSU-OC) researchers, and its look-alike cousin—the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark—may threaten the survival of both species.

When an animal or fish has a unique feature that has appeal due to fairly irrational reasons (e.g. belief in aphrodisiac qualities by some large affluent population) I'm hard pressed to see how its extinction (at least outside of zoos and aquariums) can be prevented. We could do with less widespread irrational belief in imaginary medical benefits of rare animals and fish.

This shark ranges over thousands of miles. So how come nobody noticed before it is unique?

According to an April 2012 article in the scientific journal Marine Biology, the new look-alike hammerhead species has now been discovered more than 4,300 miles away near the coast of southern Brazil. This confirms that the original finding was not a local oddity and the new species is much wider spread. The look-alike species may face the same fishery pressures as the real scalloped hammerhead, which is being fished unsustainably for its highly prized fins.

It slip off from the scalloped hammerhead 4.5 million years ago. Will they both go extinct at the same time?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 March 28 10:17 PM  Trends Extinction

Phillep Harding said at March 29, 2012 11:25 AM:

Doesn't "endangered" mean "numbers are dropping"? If it was just discovered, how do they know it was not always rare?

PacRim Jim said at March 29, 2012 7:20 PM:

Shark protection is a tough sell.
Perhaps it would be helpful to remind people that every genome adds to our ability to prolong healthy life in humans.

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