Saturday 10 March 2012

New species of Catshark from the Galapaagos.

Catsharks, or Dogfish, are small bottom dwelling sharks found in oceans throughout the world.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 5 March 2012, John McCosker, of the Department of Aquatic Biology at the California Academy of Sciences, Douglas Long, of the Department of Aquatic Biology at the California Academy of Sciences and the Department of Natural Sciences at the Oakland Museum of California, and Carole Baldwin of the Division of Fishes at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, report the discovery of a new species of Catshark from the Galapagos Islands, named as Bythaelurus giddingsi, the Galapagos Catshark, or Giddings' Catshark, in honor of underwater filmaker Al Giddings.

The Galapagos, or Giddings', Catshark (Bythaelurus giddingsi). From McCosker, Long & Baldwin (2012).

The Galapagos Catshark grows to slightly over 400 mm in length. Unlike other Catsharks of the genus Bythaelurus, which tend to be plain in colour, or tend to have a single line of spots, Bythaelurus giddingsi is spotted all over, and, unlike most sharks of any type, these spots are not symmetrical but are placed in different positions on different parts of the body.

The sharks were discovered at a depths of between 450 and 600 m between the islands of Darwin and Marchena using the Johnson Sea-Link submersible. They are thought to be indigenous to the Galapagos.