The epaulette shark uses its pectoral fins to crawl.
The epaulette shark uses its pectoral fins to crawl. (By Gerry Allen -- Conservation International Via Ap)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Better Run for Cover: These Sharks Can Walk

· Here's a shark tale you might find hard to believe: Scientists in Indonesia have seen two types of shark that walk on their fins!

Called epaulette sharks, they are among 52 new species of fish, coral and shrimp seen in a remote marine area known as Bird's Head Seascape.

The area, about the size of the state of Missouri, is home to more than 1,200 species of fish and nearly 600 species of reef-building coral.

That diversity is threatened, however, by fishermen who use explosives and poison to catch fish in nets. The scientists, working for the U.S.-based group Conservation International, want the Indonesian government to do more to protect the area, 11 percent of which is currently under protection.

Two types of "walking shark" were seen by scientists. The animals propel themselves across the ocean bottom using their front fins.

Besides the sharks, the new species include 22 other types of fish, a shrimp that looks like a praying mantis and 20 kinds of coral, the scientists reported.

"It's one of the most stunningly beautiful . . . seascapes on the planet," said Mark Erdmann, who led two research trips to the area this year.

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