Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lost Shark Found!

Greetings once again to all. This morning we'll be looking at a species of shark that was lost, but has now been found. By that I mean we will be looking at a species of shark that was thought to be extinct, but has now been rediscovered. The species of shark is known as the smoothtooth blacktip shark. The first sighting of this shark was in Yemen back in 1902. That shark was kept in a museum until 1985 when it was actually identified as a new species of shark. That one shark was the only member of it's species ever to be found leading some scientists to say that it was an invalid species while others simply stated that the species had gone extinct. Fast forward to 2008.

It was  then that a shark conservation research expedition to a Kuwait fish market had taken place. Along with the other species of shark, conservationists notices a couple sharks that looks slightly different than the others. Analysis concluded that these sharks were in fact smoothtooth blacktip sharks! Since then, 47 additional reports of smoothtooth blacktip sharks have surfaced in the region's fish markets. The smoothtooth blacktip is not extinct, not yet anyway. Now the question is, what is the status of these sharks? Clearly they do not have a massive population, otherwise one would think more than 50 or so would have been identified over the course of the last century. The IUCN's Red List currently lists this species as Vulnerable to extinction.

What does the future hold for these sharks? Nobody, and I mean nobody really knows. There are no conservation measures in place for this species of shark and honestly, we do not even know the extent of this shark's range. If it is isolated to the areas around the middle east, localized conservation efforts could and really should come up given the mysterious population this shark has. If this shark begins to be spotted in other areas of the world, then scientists and conservationists need to have a nice sit down and try to learn more about an animal that lives on this planet that we thought had been lost.


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