A Critically Endangered Shark Not Seen For Decades Found In Mumbai Fish Market

The Ganges river shark is a freshwater shark that is one of the most elusive in the world and and is listed as critically endangered. In fact, the shark has not been seen for centuries until now.

Recent photos taken in a Mumbai fish market show the almost nine foot female shark. The photos were collected under a Save Our Seas Foundation grant and used as part of a study. The findings of the study was published in the Journal of Fish Biology and are a result of nearly two years worth of weekly shark sampling where shark researchers recorded, interviewed, and measured sharks fished and traded at the Sassoon Docks.

The female Ganges shark was identified by researchers based on the round snout, small eyes, and fin characteristics specific to the species. Most of the data collected on the shark is from the 19th century so researchers dug deep to learn more and identify the species.

Unfortunately, they were not able to collect morphological measurements or tissue samples because of “rapid processing of fishers and traders at the site.” They are also unsure where the shark was caught but speculate it could have been somewhere along the northeast coast of the Arabian Sea.

The spotting of the shark is not only the first in more than a decade but also the first field observation of the whole species. Other available accounts come from just six jaws collected by Pakistani fisherman and traders.

Much of what scientists know about the shark is extrapolated from its Australian cousin. Scientists do believe that the shark relies both on river and marine environments, both of which are heavily impacted by human development and habitat degradation.

The concern in protecting this species is extremely high as scientist are not sure on how to properly do it with current fishing regulations in the region. “Landings such as this record represent a conservation issue and mitigation measures should be considered urgently in view of the suspected low population sizes,” say the authors.

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