A new species of shark that “walks” along the seabed using its fins as tiny legs has been discovered in eastern Indonesia, an environmental group said on Friday.
The brown and white bamboo shark pushes itself along the ocean floor as it forages for small fish and crustaceans at night, said Conservation International, whose scientists were involved in its discovery.
The shark, which grows to a maximum length of 80cm and is harmless to humans, was discovered off Halmahera, one of the Maluku Islands that lie west of New Guinea.
Bamboo sharks, also known as long-tail carpet sharks, are relatively small compared with their larger cousins, with the largest adult reaching only about 120cm in length.
They have unusually long tails that are bigger than the rest of their bodies, and are found to frequent the tropical waters around Indonesia, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Conservation International said the discovery of the shark, which was first disclosed in the International Journal of Ichthyology, “should help draw diver interest to this mega-diverse, but largely undiscovered region.”
Ketut Sarjana Putra, Indonesia country director for the group, said the Hemiscyllium halmahera shark could “serve as an excellent ambassador to call public attention to the fact that most sharks are harmless to humans and are worthy of our conservation attention.”