Article by Support Our Sharks (25 February 2013)
A rare species of shark has been added to the ID books for Australian waters, according to our latest research published in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records.
Shark biologist and founder of SOS Ryan Kempster, describes when he was contacted by local, Perth Fisherman, Steve Downs, alerting him to two unusual sharks he caught off the coast of Rottnest Island in Western Australia.
"When I went to view the sharks I was surprised by what I found, as the species was completely different from anything I was used to [from this area] and the Australian shark identification books gave no further insight. I knew further investigation would be required to identify them. Little did I know that it would take two years to positively ID the sharks," says Ryan.
Two years of thorough investigation, including detailed morphometric analysis at the Western Australian Museum, X-rays to study the teeth and vertebrae, and also DNA analysis finally revealed the sharks to be a little known, rare, species called the mandarin dogfish (Cirrhigaleus barbifer), a species never before seen in Australian waters. Previously, this species was only known to be found between Indonesia and Japan, and also New Zealand, with few specimens ever recorded.
Due to its typical depth being 300-600m below sea level it is likely that this species has always been there but we have simply never come across it before. Which brings up the question, how many other species are out that that we are simply unaware of?
This discovery is helping us learn more about the distribution and biology of a rare species of shark and further highlights the need for more research investment into shark biology.
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