New hammerhead shark discovered

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Scientists have discovered what they believe may be a new species of hammerhead shark living in the Atlantic Ocean.

The hammerhead, which has yet to be formally identified or described, was spotted in the northwestern Atlantic and is believed to be a rare species.

According to a report from the BBC, the sphyrnid shark was discovered by Dr Joe Quattro, a researcher who was studying fishes in the waters off South Carolina.

Quattro studied the local population of Scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini) in the area and spotted fish that appeared to be closely related.

Later genetic work showed that the similar-looking hammerhead was in fact a genetically distinct cryptic species.

Adults have been found in the waters off Florida and North Carolina, but the fish is believed to spawn in the waters off South Carolina, where Quattro first spotted it.

"If South Carolina's waters are the primary nursery grounds for the cryptic species and females gather here to reproduce, these areas should be conservation priorities," Quattro told the BBC.

"Management plans are needed to ensure that these sharks are not adversely impacted so that we can learn more."

The related Scalloped hammerhead reaches an adult size of around 4.3m and is often found in large schools. Although not aggressive, it is considered potentially dangerous to man.