Walking sharks


At least 20 new species of sharks and rays have been discovered in the waters off Indonesia, scientists announced this week. The finds are the result of a five-year survey—mostly done at local fish markets—to catalog what types of sea creatures are living, and being caught, in a region known for its rich aquatic diversity.

This sleek, spade-shaped Hortle’s whipray, for example, is the newest of 17 whipray species known to live in the muddy shallows along Indonesia’s shores.

The announcement also comes just six months after another expedition discovered more than 50 colorful and often strange new species among Indonesia’s coral reefs.

(See related story and photo gallery: “‘Walking’ Sharks Among 50 New Species Found in Indonesia Reefs” [September 18, 2006].)

“Indonesia has the most diverse shark and ray fauna and the largest shark and ray fishery in the world,” said biologist William White in a statement from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which led the new survey.

“Before this survey, however, there were vast gaps in our knowledge of sharks and rays in this region.”

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