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Feb 16, 2017

A New Species of Bonnethead Shark Discovered in Belize

Over a week ago, we told you about the discovery of what is believed to be a new species of sharks in Belize. Since 2000, a researcher from the Florida International University has been working in Belize on a number of fisheries projects including the biology of sharks. So, about seventeen years ago the researcher saw the species in Belize and took samples – but he had no idea that it was a new species. It wasn’t until December of last year that they published the news that the shark was a different species.  So, about this shark – it looks similar to a bonnethead – which is a small species of hammerheads found in this region – but its DNA shows that it had large genetic differences compared to bonnethead in this region. News Five spoke with the researcher who made the discovery Demian Chapman and Beverley Wade of Fisheries Department:

 

Demian Chapman

Dr. Demian Chapman, Associate Professor, FIU

“One of the most interesting things we have found is that there is a s species of Hammerhead Sharks here in Belize that is actually new to science; it is not new -  it didn’t just pop up from nowhere – it has always been there but we have always thought this species is a species that it actually isn’t. It is a species all in itself. So, the species is called a bonnethead shark. It ranges all the way from the US don’t to Brazil.  When we looked at the DNA in these sharks, it’s that the ones in Belize are different. They are so different that they are actually a different species.”

 

Beverly Wade

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator

“We have been doing shark research here for some time and what it is that it is something that came out of our research and what it shows is that more and more we are able to have a better understanding of the shark population of Belize. The second thing is that it could bring more attention to the work that we are doing in Belize and that there is opportunity for us to now look at strengthening the management regime that we do have in Belize for shark. Thirdly, it also means that we can now look at strengthening our management regime that governs our small scale fisheries currently in Belize.”

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