Rare River Shark Species Not Seen In A Decade Found On Sale In A Fish Market


A researcher snapped a photo of a rare shark species that has not been seen in a decade at a fish market in Mumbai, India.

Ganges River Shark

The Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus) is an endangered shark species that thrives in freshwater habitats. The river shark inhabits the rivers of Bangladesh and India, particularly Ganges River and Brahmaputra River.

While other known species of river sharks in the world also inhabit saltwater, the Ganges shark can only be found in rivers and estuaries. Researchers have, so far, no confirmed records of sighting the species in the oceans or seas.

Elusive Shark Included In The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The Ganges shark is a Critically Endangered species. In fact, it is in the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is also among the top 20 most threatened shark species.

"River sharks are exceedingly rare. The Ganges Shark is known from only three museum specimens, all collected in the 19th Century. After an extensive search in the Ganges River over the past decade, a few additional specimens were caught in 1996," the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research said.

Endangered Shark Found On Sale At An Indian Market

Despite the creature's endangered status, a specimen emerged on sale at an Indian fish market.

Photos taken at Mumbai's Sassoon docks fish market in 2016 showed a female Ganges shark measuring 8-feet and 7-inches long.

Rima Jabado, founder of the shark research and conservation organization Gulf Elasmo Project, and colleagues, were able to tell that the specimen was a Ganges shark based on the creature's physical features. It had small eyes, round snout, and fin with characteristics exclusive to the species.

The researchers were not able to determine where sellers picked up this particular river shark. However, they suspect that the creature was caught somewhere along the Arabian Sea.

Awareness Campaign Needed To Protect The Endangered Species

Jabado and colleagues said that the incident shows that there is a need improve informational campaigns to educate people so they would recognize animals considered as endangered species such as the elusive Ganges shark.

"In light of the Critically Endangered status of this species and its rarity, urgent management actions are needed to determine population size and trends in abundance in combination with fisher education and awareness campaigns," Jabado and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Fish Biology on April 3.

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