Two New Species of Shark Were Observed for the First Time in the Galápagos Islands

Two New Species of Shark Were Observed for the First Time in the Galápagos islands

“Research registers cow sharks for the first time in the deep Galápagos”

Isabel Grijalva via Charles Darwin Foundation | July 30, 2020

Through a scientific research project, which uses high-tech equipment to discover the depths of the Galapagos, the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and other organizations observed, for the first time in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, a shark of seven gills (Notorynchus cepedianus) and a six gill shark (Hexanchus griseus), in the waters of the Floreana and Española islands, respectively.

These species, known as cow sharks, are considered among the most primitive groups of sharks, because their skeleton retains characteristics that have already disappeared in other adaptations of these species, such as the number of gills that in most sharks is up to five.

The identification of the two registered species was made by the taxonomist David Ebert, from the Lost Sharks and Pacific Shark Research Center, who defines this finding as “exciting”, considering that the six gill sharks are species that are found mainly in deep waters and they are one of the largest and most abundant sharks in these areas.

“These findings contribute to a better understanding of the territorial range of both species, information that is vital to propose the management of their conservation in marine protected areas,” said the leading scientist of the Seamounts Research Project, Salomé Buglass

For the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, increasing knowledge about marine areas that have never been reached, such as abysses or seamounts, which allows understanding what happens in that ecosystem and the behavior of the species they host, will contribute to strengthening the conservation programs based on scientific research.

Read the whole article from Charles Darwin Foundation at: bit.ly/newsharkspecies2 and from El Universo at bit.ly/newsharkspecies


Learning More about Cow Sharks 

Broadnose sevengill shark | Notorynchus cepedianus

Bluntnose sixgill shark | Hexanchus griseus

Two cow sharks (family Hexanchidae) have been registered in the Galapagos Islands for the first time. One species, the bluntnose sixgill shark, is from the genus Hexanchus (H. griseus), and the other is the only known species within the genus Notorynchus, the broadnose sevengill shark (N. cepedianus).

One of cow shark’s most distinctive features is the presence of a sixth or seventh gill slit, in contrast to the five found in all other sharks. These species represent both variations! Cow sharks are considered the most primitive of all the sharks, as their skeletons resemble those of ancient extinct forms, with few modern adaptations. Their excretory and digestive systems are also unspecialised, suggesting they may resemble those of primitive shark ancestors.

This is not the first time that a species previously unknown in the Galapagos has been discovered in recent years. In 2012, the spotted catshark (Bythaelurus giddingsi) was first documented within the reserve. Like the newly discovered cow shark species, the spotted catshark is also found in deep waters. In 2018, a previously unknown deep-water kelp forest was also found using a remote operated vehicle (ROV) while exploring seamounts in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Even in 2020, we are still learning about the wealth of marine life in the Galapagos Islands. We must protect these waters and learn more about its incredible diversity before it is erased.


Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2020

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