Horror of horrors, marine biologists have discovered a “walking” shark. As if a fish with a mouthful of sharp teeth isn’t scary enough (and with Hollywood adding to our natural instinctual aversion to being eaten by said sea predators), there probably isn’t anything scarier than the idea of a species of shark that can walk. Except that this species is also protectively colored — camouflaged. Still, it really isn’t as terrifying as it could be: The new species of “walking” shark discovered in Indonesian waters in the Pacific Ocean barely grows over two feet long.
Yahoo News reported Aug. 28 that biologist Dr. Gerald Allen and a group of colleagues out of Perth, Australia, discovered the “walking” species of shark off the coast of the island of Ternate, which is one of the Maluku Islands of eastern Indonesia. The new species, dubbed Hemiscyllium Halmahera, are also known as bamboo or longtail sharks.
There are a few things that distinguish the new species from others — unique spotting and the fact that they perambulate across the ocean floor. The latter is accomplished by using their pectoral and pelvic fins to push themselves along. They do this as the scour the sea bed in search of food — smaller fish and invertebrates.
As for the sports, this “walking” shark has two sets that differentiates it from similar species of shark. They have elongated horizontal dark spots on their lower abdomens and a grouping of roughly 25 small spots on their heads.
Picture the barrel of a desert camouflaged tank, brownish and sand-colored, mottled in varying shades for protective coloration. Give it teeth at the barrel’s muzzle and decorate it with several fins.
The “walking” shark isn’t the only ambulatory fish we know about. In fact, there are several. From the invasive snakehead fish to the climbing gourami to mudskippers, there are several fish species that not only survive for hours to days upon land but which can also maneuver themselves about in various ways, often using their fins to mimic walking.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are over 400 species of shark extant in the world’s oceans.
In fact, the latest addition to the list is the second new species announced by scientists this month. A 400-pound, 11-foot version of hammerhead shark was identified in early August. It was named the “Carolina Hammerhead” for the region where it was found (outside Charleston, South Carolina).
So far, despite the odd trend in shark-inspired horror movies like “Sharknado,” there has yet to be found a walking shark that gets around on land, although they’ve been known to somehow catch a ride the New York subway.