August 31, 2013
A new species of “walking” shark has been discovered in a reef off a remote Indonesian island.
These sharks don’t always rely on “walking” to move about — often, they only appear to touch the seafloor as they swim using their pectoral and dorsal fins in a walklike gait, said Fahmi (who only goes by one name), a shark researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Science who wasn’t involved in the study describing the species. In the videoof the newfound walking shark, however, the animal is clearly touching the seafloor. [Video: New Shark “Walks” Along Reef]
The shark grows up to 27 inches long and is harmless to humans, said Mark Erdmann, a marine biologist and adviser with Conservation International who was also a co-author on the study describing the species. The animal has been dubbed Hemiscyllium halmahera, named after the eastern Indonesian island of Halmahera where it was found. Sharks in its genus (the taxonomic group above species) are also known as epaulette sharks, since many sport markings that resemble military epaulettes, according to a Conservation International statement.