New ‘walking shark’ species discovered in Indonesia – New York Daily News

Sharks that walk apparently exist, but there is no need to cue the “Jaws” theme.

Epaulette (long-tailed carpet) sharks use their fins to glide across the ocean floor, which gives the illusion that they are walking.

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A new species of these “walking” sharks has been discovered in Indonesia, and conservationists are thrilled about what this means for tourism and the country’s fish population.

“This is the third walking shark species to be described from eastern Indonesia in the past six years, which highlights our tremendous shark and ray biodiversity,” Indonesia’s foremost shark expert, known as Fahmi, said in a release from Conservation International. “We now know that six of the nine known walking shark species occur in Indonesian waters, and these animals are diver favorites with excellent potential to help grow our marine tourism industry.”

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The shark, dubbed Hemiscyllium halmahera, was discovered on the reefs of the remote eastern Indonesian island of Halmahera. It was recently described and identified in Aqua: the International Journal of Ichthyology as a new species.

The H. halmahera is distinguishable by its brown spots, according to the article.

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Mark Erdmann of Conservation International wrote in a blog post that Indonesia has been the world leader in dried shark fin exports. However, the country is learning that sharks and other elasmobranchs are worth more alive than they are dead.

A living manta ray is worth up to $1.9 million over its lifetime, while its meat and gill rakers would only be worth $40 to $200 dollars, according to Agus Dermawan, director of the Marine Conservation Directorate at the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Erdmann said he hopes the shark can act as a “local ambassador for marine conservation in Halmahera.”

“The shark, which has the endearing quality of using its fins to ‘walk’ across the ocean floor, calls attention to the fact that the vast majority of Indonesia’s elasmobranchs are harmless to humans and lead fascinating but little-known lives beneath the sea,” he wrote.

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New ‘walking shark’ species discovered in Indonesia – New York Daily News

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