Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To ...

First there were Lawyers, then came Politicians, and then Used Car Salesmen/Lobbyists. Now we have a new species of Shark discovered off of the coast of South Carolina.

It was discovered through DNA analysis, that there exists two completely different species of scalloped hammerhead shark.

No additional information on the significance in the difference between the two species was offered.

Excerpts From AP via Yahoo! News -

S.C. scientists find new shark species
Associated Press - Mon Jun 12, 11:26 PM ET

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A new genetically distinct species of hammerhead shark, the ninth recognized species of hammerhead, has been discovered off the South Carolina coast, scientists say.

The new species appears to be rare and lives off the South Carolina coast. Classified under the genus sphyrna, will be called the "cryptic species" for the time being.

Joe Quattro, a biology professor at the University of South Carolina, worked with Jim Grady of the University of New Orleans and Trey Driggers of the National Marine Fisheries Service in making the find.

Quattro discovered the new species while studying along the coast with biologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Quattro and his colleagues found that genes in the mitochondrial DNA — the DNA passed from mother sharks to their offspring — differed significantly among sharks that were classified as scalloped hammerhead sharks.

"This cryptic shark was genetically distinct," said Quattro, whose research was published recently in the journal, Marine Biology.

Scalloped hammerheads are common along the coast and sharks of the cryptic species were found from Florida to North Carolina. The newborn cryptic sharks, however, were found mainly along the South Carolina coast.

"The apparent abundance of the cryptic species in coastal South Carolina could be a result of sampling, but it might also highlight the fact that the South Carolina bays are the more important nursery grounds for the cryptic species," Quattro said.
Because they seem to have a narrow geographic distribution, the sharks may be at greater risk for extinction.

"If South Carolina's waters are the primary nursery grounds for the cryptic species and females gather here to reproduce, these areas should be conservation priorities," Quattro said.
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The big difference here is that we may protect the habitat of real sharks, but we would never consider making Washington a safe zone from sharks of the human kind.

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