Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More from the “Lost World”

Newly discovered walking shark Hemiscyillum freycineti
Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney NSW

My very first article was on the discovery of new species of plants and animals in the unexplored jungles of Indonesia. Well, marine biologists have been exploring nearby Bird's Head Seascape and have found a treasure trove of new undersea species including walking sharks:

More than 50 new species have been discovered off the coast of Indonesia, including small, slender-bodied sharks that "walk" with their fins along coral reefs, researchers announced today.

In addition to the two types of walking epaulette sharks, the researchers discovered 22 species of other fish, 20 species of hard corals, and 8 kinds of shrimp all believed new to science. The new species were found during two recent expeditions to the Bird's Head Seascape, a distinctive peninsula on the northwestern end of Indonesia's Papua province that is already renowned for its marine biodiversity

"It's an incredible place in both the number of species and the abundance of marine wildlife," said Roger McManus, senior director for global marine conservation at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Conservation International, which led the expeditions.

The Missouri-size region is home to more than 1,200 types of reef fishes and nearly 600 species of hard corals. Whales, sea turtles, crocodiles, giant clams, manta rays, and dugongs also ply the peninsula's waters.

"We knew this was an area important for marine diversity," said Sebastian Troeng, director of regional marine programs for Conservation International.

"We hadn't expected that over 50 new species would be found in those two surveys. It is quite amazing."

Remember all this is not far away from Java, one of the most densely populated islands in the world. Its vitally important we explore other planets, but crikey, theres still a lot to discover on Earth.