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 cousinthe endangered scalloped hammerhead sharkmay threaten the survival of both species.
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's a classic case of long-standing species misidentification that not only casts further uncertainty on the status of the real scalloped hammerhead but also raises concerns about the population status of this new species," says professor Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., who oversaw the new research at the NSU-OC's Save Our Seas Shark Center USA and Guy Harvey Research Institute.
Tens of millions of sharks are being killed for their fins and meat worldwide, resulting in dramatic reductions in shark populations and concerns about the broad scale negative impacts to ocean ecosystems. This has prompted international protection and other management efforts to reduce the unsustainable slaughter of sharks.
"It's very important to officially recognize, name and learn more about this new hammerhead species and the condition of its populations through systematic surveys," Shivji says. "Without management intervention to curtail its inadvertent killing, we run the risk that overfishing could eradicate an entire shark species before its existence is even properly acknowledged."
Shivji's team first discovered the new hammerhead species in 2005 when examining the DNA of sh
|Contact: Ken Ma|
Nova Southeastern University