By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) – Scientists said on Monday they found two types of shark, exotic “flasher” fish and corals among 52 new species in seas off Indonesia, confirming the western Pacific as the richest marine habitat on earth.
They urged more protection for seas around the Bird’s Head peninsula at the western end of New Guinea island from threats including mining and dynamite fishing that can smash coral reefs.
“We feel very confident that this is the epicenter of marine biodiversity” in the world, said Mark Erdmann, a U.S. scientist at Conservation International who led two surveys this year.
The scientists found 24 new species of fish, including two types of epaulette shark, slim and spotty growing up to about 1.2 meters (4 ft) long. Among other finds were 20 new species of coral and eight previously unknown types of shrimp.
“It’s especially stunning to find sharks — these are higher level creatures, not bacteria or worms,” Erdmann told Reuters. The sharks get their name from markings on their sides like epaulettes — decorations on the shoulders of military uniforms.
The researchers also found new species of “flasher” wrasse fish. The males, which keep harems of several females, suddenly “flash” bright yellows, blues, pinks or other colors on their bodies, apparently as part of a mating ritual. [More from the Reuters article.]
Find a National Geographic article here.
VIDEO of the fin-walking shark and other species.
An article from Telegraph.co.uk with another picture