While studying small-scale fisheries off the coasts of Madagascar and Zanzibar, researchers discovered two new species rare sawsharks. The species have been named Pliotrema kajae and Pliotrema annae, or Kaja’s and Anna’s six-gilled sawsharks.
Sawsharks are known for their saw-like snouts, which are long and edged with teeth that alternate in size. They are primarily found in temperate waters of all three major oceans and can grow to almost five feet in length.
According to Dr. Simon Weigmann, lead author of the study, most sawsharks only have five gill slits per side, which makes the discovery of two six-gilled species especially exciting. Though little is known about sawsharks in the western Indian Ocean, scientists worry that the new species are susceptible to fishing operations. According to Dr. Weigmann, Anna’s six-gilled sawshark has a very small range and is only known to live at depths of 20 to 35 meters. Commercial fishing has caused the decline of sawshark populations for the past couple of decades.
This new discovery displays how much is still unknown about ocean life and how we are impacting it. Read more here.