Cocos Island, Costa Rica - April 1, 2012 - Even in waters as well visited as those surrounding Cocos Island, UNESCO World Heritage site, biologists can discover new species. The latest? A remarkable new shark measuring over 15-feet in length. Previously unknown, this shark joins the long list of cartilaginous fish inhabiting the waters surrounding this Costa Rica Island.
|New Species Demonstrates Novel Camouflaging Abilities|
Carcharodon chameleonarias is a large apex predator that has evaded divers and scientists, until now, due to its uncanny camouflaging abilities. While thought to inhabit deep water, this shark’s defenses enable it to patrol shallower waters under the protective cloak of a highly developed camouflage system. Dentricles, typical of other shark species, have been replaced by a system of color receptor and morphing cells, enabling the fish to blend perfectly with its ever-changing depth and topographical background.
Nemo Johnson, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered the impressive fish while participating in a Sea Save Foundation Expedition. “We know that there are many still undescribed species of flora and fauna in the water surrounding Cocos Island, but we were never expecting to find something of this size and biological significance.”
Carcharodon chameleonarias is probably most closely related to the Carcharodon carcharias, better known as the Great White Shark. While more study is needed, the new species is thought to be an expert predator and potential holds many clues to shark evolution and adaptability. DNA analysis is still needed, as scientists were unable to recover tissue samples.
The discovery was described in “The Journal of Chondrichthyes” A follow-up Sea Save Foundation expedition is being planned. Be sure to add your name to the SeaSave.org newsletter for future updates.