New shark found in Australia

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A new species of wobbegong shark has been found off the coast of southwestern Australia.

The shark has just been described as Orectolobus hutchinsi in the latest issue of the systematics journal Zootaxa.

The paper's authors, Peter Last of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Justin Chidlow of the Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories and Leonardo Compagno of the Iziko Museum of Cape Town, say that the wobbegong is known to occur from Coral Bay, near North West Cape, south to Groper Bluff, west of Bremer Bay, and occurs in shallow continental shelf waters ranging in depth from 9-106m/30-348 feet.

The orectolobid shark is one of seven species known from the Indo Pacific.

It is found alongside two other Orectolobus species, O. maculatus and O. ornatus, and can be distinguished from these and other Indo Pacific wobbegong sharks by its tall dorsal fin, lack of warty tubercles on the dorsal surface and the relatively low number of unbranched dermal lobes.

Orectolobus hutchinsi also has dark brown saddles on its back which lack the white spots or blotches seen in some other members of the genus.

For more information on the new shark species see the paper: Last PR, Chidlow JA and LJV Compagno (2006) - A new wobbegong shark, Orectolobus hutchinsi n. sp. (Orectolobiformes: Orectolobidae) from southwestern Australia. Zootaxa 1239: 35-48.