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New little shark is a big deal

This shark may not be a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s making a worldwide premiere thanks to scientists at the California Academy of Sciences.

Researchers were conducting deep-sea studies near the Galapagos Islands when confronted with the previously unidentified mini-Jaws.

Bythaelurus giddingsi, or Galapagos catshark, is a newly-observed species which grows to be about foot long and is noted by its brown coloration and arbitrarily patterned spots.

John McCosker of the Academy of Sciences was the first to wrangle one of these creatures using a small submarine about a quarter-mile beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean:

“The discovery of a new shark species is always interesting, particularly at this time when sharks are facing such incredible human pressure. Many species have become locally rare and others verge on extinction due to their capture for shark-fin soup.”

McCosker went on to say that this catshark’s population is likely smaller than most others, possibly making its existence tenuous:

“Most deepwater shark species are not very susceptible to overfishing; however, since this catshark’s range is restricted to the Galapagos, its population is likely limited in size, making it more susceptible than more widely distributed species.”

The Academy has been sending researchers to the Galapagos since 1905. It has since become a vast collection of unique species.

The scientific name of the Galapagos catshark honors filmmaker Al Giddings, who documented McCosker’s research in a 1996 documentary, “Galapagos: Beyond Darwin.”

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