Is The Endangered Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Species More Endangered Than Initially Thought?
A new shark species has yet to be named, but resembles the hammerhead species that is being fished for its prized fins. The scalloped hammerhead shark has been labeled as endangered, but now it is unknown just how rare the species is as scientists have discovered at least 7% of sharks thought to be the scalloped hammerhead species have identified as the new shark species.
“It’s a classic case of long-standing species misidentification that not only casts further uncertainty on the status of the real scalloped hammerhead but also raises concerns about the population status of this new species,” Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center professor Mahmood Shivji said. “It’s very important to officially recognize, name and learn more about this new hammerhead species and the condition of its populations through systematic surveys. Without management intervention to curtail its inadvertent killing, we run the risk that overfishing could eradicate an entire shark species before its existence is even properly acknowledged.”
Millions and millions of sharks are being killed throughout the world for their meat and their fins, known as finning, so shark populations have been declining. Delicacies such as Shark Fin Soup make the price high in areas such as China. Shark finning in the United States is not a legal act nor is even possessing shark fins as the danger of upsetting ecosystem balance is of great concern.
As far as the scalloped hammerhead sharks, the finding of the new shark species that only varies according to their DNA and the number of vertebrae they have, the numbers for scalloped hammerheads are most likely a lot smaller than previously thought.
The new shark species was initially found off eastern United States in 2005, but now has also been discovered off of the coast of southern Brazil. Finding the species thousands of miles from where the initial shark was found proves its existence is widespread.
The article about the new shark species can be found in the April 2012 edition of the scientific journal Marine Biology. The research on this matter is being completed at the NSU-OC’s Save Our Seas Shark Center USA and Guy Harvey Research Institute.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service is now reviewing the status of the scalloped hammerhead to determine if the shark species should be listed as threatened or endangered according to the regulations of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) already has the scalloped hammerhead shark on their red list of endangered species.