March 8, 2012
Scientists Name New Species Of Catshark
John McCosker, the Chair of Aquatic Biology at the California Academy of Sciences, collected specimens of a new catshark while diving in 1,400 to 1,900 foot waters of the Galapagos islands.
The new species named Bythaelurus giddingsi, is approximately one-foot long with chocolate-brown coloration and irregularly distributed spots on its body.
McCosker said in a recent press release: “The discovery of a new shark species is always interesting, particularly at this time when sharks are facing such incredible human pressure. Many species have become locally rare and others verge on extinction due to their capture for shark-fin soup. The damage to food webs is dramatic, since sharks provide valuable ecological services as top-level predators – when they disappear, their niche is often filled by other species that further imbalance ecosystems. Most deepwater shark species are not very susceptible to overfishing; however, since this catshark´s range is restricted to the Galapagos, its population is likely limited in size making it more susceptible than more widely distributed species.”
McCosker discovered the catshark specimens in the 1990´s when he made a series of dives in the submersible Johnson Sea-Link. He was exploring the marine life on the steep volcanic slopes and sandy bottoms of the island. He compared his specimens, with the assistance of Academy Research Associate Douglas Long and Smithsonian Institution scientist Carole Baldwin, with those of the research collections at the Academy and elsewhere to determine that he definitely discovered a new species. He named the species in honor of filmmaker Al Giddings who produced and filmed projects for the Discovery Channel.
The report is published in the journal Zootaxa.
Image Caption: Bythaelurus giddingsi is a new species of deep-sea catshark from the Galapagos. Credit: California Academy of Sciences
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