Creature Feature: Speartooth Shark

Speartooth-shark-specimen-side-view Dr. Richard Pillans

I saved the Speartooth Shark (Glyphis glyphis) to be our last shark feature because it is a little known, endangered species. This stocky shark with a rounded snout exhibits counter shading, with a grey dorsal (upper) side and white ventral (bottom) side. Speartooth Sharks are rare, and it is believed that their population consists of 2500 individuals, earning it the endangered designation. They have been seen in both freshwater (as young sharks) and in saltwater areas around Australia and New Guinea.

Because this shark is both rare and particularly threatened by human impacts such as river damming, net fishing, and climate change, Australia has implemented a recovery plan to help Speartooths. (link https://www.environment.gov.au/resource/draft-recovery-plan-sawfish-and-river-sharks-pristis-pristis-pristis-zijsron-pristis).

This protection and research continues to reveal more about this enigmatic species. Recently two adult Speartooth Sharks (one female and one male) were tagged in the Wenlock River in Queensland, Australia. The study of these individuals can help confirm many things that have heretofore gone unknown, including the fully grown size of approximately 7.5 feet.  This is an exciting moment for researchers to gain more knowledge of this species. After 60 – 120 days the tags will automatically fall off of the animals and will transmit information about their movement and the conditions of their habitats, including temperature, salinity, depths, etc.

There are many mysteries in the world. Keep looking and you never know what you will find.

Edited by Felicia Van Stolk

Photography courtesy of ARKIVE : Sr. Richard Pillans 

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