New shark species discovered



Sydney: Two new shark species discovered in Australia will help scientists script a better understanding of the species.

Shark biologist Ryan Kempster, from The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute, said the rare sharks were caught off Rottnest Island two years ago at a depth of 430 metres by local recreational fisherman Steve Downs.

The mystery sharks were a male just under a metre long and a pregnant female about 1.2 metres long, the journal Marine Biodiversity Records reported.

"After two years of thorough investigation which included DNA sequencing, the sharks were identified as mandarin dogfish (Cirrhigaleus barbifer), a species never before seen in Australia," Kempster was quoted as saying in a statement from UWA.

"This species was known previously to be found only between Indonesia and Japan, and also New Zealand. It's not known why the sharks were found so far from their normal habitat."

But the find already has scientists re-evaluating their understanding of the species.

"The female shark found off Rottnest had 22 unborn pups and is only the second ever-recorded specimen of a pregnant female of this species," Kempster said.

"Previously, it was thought that the maximum number of pups for this species was 10."

IANS