Our oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface and contain 97% of the water. In these massive bodies of water, there are constantly new species of marine life discovered every year including new shark species. Here are twelve of the most interesting recently discovered species of sharks:
The ninja lanternshark is a species of lanternshark discovered in 2015 off the Pacific Coast of Central America. These all black sharks live 1000 feet below the ocean surface. They have bioluminescence that allows their organs to glow bright green to either attract mates or help them catch prey. It was named a “ninja” because it’s biological characteristics make it a stealthy hunter.
Chimaera Carophila Ghost Shark
The Chimaera Carophila Ghost Shark was discovered in 2015 off the coast of New Zealand. Not much is known about this new species yet, however they are pale brown in color and smaller than related Chimaera genus sharks. Their habitat is along deepwater slopes and seamounts.
Hemiscyllium Halmahera Walking Bamboo Shark
The Walking Bamboo shark was found along the coast of Indonesia in 2013. What makes this species of shark unique is it’s bizarre style of swimming that looks like walking. Walking Bamboo Sharks glide along the sand propelling themselves with their four fins. They also have really unique coloring. They are light brown with different colors of speckles and spots.
For years the Carolina Hammerhead was thought to be a Scalloped Hammerhead shark. However, 2013 scientists discovered they are genetically different than Scalloped Hammerheads because their spines contain 10 fewer vertebrae. They are named for their habitat found off the coast of Southern Carolina.
Philippines Angel Shark
Discovered in 2011 off the coast of the Philippines, the Philippines Angel Shark is a new species of angel sharks. The Philippines Angel Shark is like most angel sharks because it has a long flat body, expanded pectoral and pelvic fins, eyes and spiracles located on the to of it’s head. However unlike other species of angel sharks it does not have thorns along it’s back, ocelli on its fins, or fringes on its barbels.
African Dwarf Sawshark
The African Dwarf Sawshark, also nicknamed the “Rapier-Wielding Sawshark” was discovered in 2011 of the coast of Mozambique. The shark was found in 1600 feet deep water and has a unique long, tooth-studded snout. The African Dwarf Shark uses this snout like a sword to stab its prey, waits, and returns to eat it when it is too weak to put up a fight. The African Dwarf Shark grows to about two feet in length at maturity.
Dusky Snout Catshark
The Dusky Snout Catshark was discovered in 2015 in the Indian Ocean in the Southwest Indian Ridge, a deep ridge along the Southwest of the Indian Ocean. It was initially found 4700 feet deep, but has recently been caught at 291 feet. The Dusky Snout Catshark was named for its dark, dusky colored snout. It also has dermal denticles, otherwise known as placoid scales, along the caudal fin.
The Narrowhead Catshark is a dwarf deep water shark discovered in the western Indian Ocean between Tanzania and Mozambique in 2015. The Narrow Catshark is named for it’s long narrow head and snout. It is brown with light splotches of color and matures at a smaller size than other catsharks.
Spotted Belly Catshark
The Spotted Belly Catshark was discovered off the coast of Indonesia in 2015. Unlike the Narrowhead and Dusky Snout catsharks, it is a medium sized species of catshark and closely related to the Coral Shark. It is light brown and covered in distinctive white spots.
Pacific Nurse Shark
Like the Carolina Hammerhead, Pacific Nurse Sharks were thought to be the same species as their common Atlantic counterpart. After genetic testing, they found they were a distinct species all together. Though they do not have many differing character traits, after three million years of physical separation there is a distinct difference in genetic speciation.
Southern African Frilled Shark
The Southern African Frilled Shark was discovered in 2009 off the coast of Southern Angola. Until its discovery, scientists believed there was only one type of frilled shark left on the planet. The Southern African Frilled Shark lives 4090 feet deep in the ocean, however has been found at 980 feet deep. It differs from the Frill Shark by its smaller size, longer head and gill slits, and larger mouth. The Southern African Frilled Shark is dark grey but has a thin membrane that makes it look like it is dark brown. The largest known Southern African Frilled Shark is 46 inches long.
Floral Banded Wobbegong
The Floral Banded Wobbegong is a species of carpet shark that was discovered in 2008. It is a bottom-dwelling shark that was found in the Indian ocean off the Western Coast of Australia. At only 30 inches, it is one of the smallest known species of carpet sharks. Floral Banded Wobbegong sharks have a floral patterned skin that helps them hide among rocks to catch their prey.
With all these new species of sharks, it makes you wonder how many different species of sharks are left to be discovered. Unfortunately many of these sharks were discovered as a byproduct of commercial fishing, showing that like most sharks these species are in danger from human activity. So it is important to support shark conservation efforts to protect these recently discovered, rare species.