FRENCH MARINE RESEARCH TEAM CLAIMS DISCOVERY OF TWO NEW SHARK SPECIES

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (March 27, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---A marine science research team organized by France’s Institute for Development Research (IRD) claims to have identified two new species of deep-sea shark, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The two sharks, the IRD team reported, were located during a recent research project conducted aboard IRD's scientific vessel "Alis."

The expedition focused on the study of species of the chondrichthyans family (to which the sharks and rays belong), which can be found at very deep depths in New Caledonian waters, below 500 meters (about 1,650 feet).

The general study aimed at better understanding the biodiversity of deep-sea species in New Caledonia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but the team netted two shark specimens that they believe are new to science.

They may be of the centrophorus and hemitriakis shark types.

Those two species, since the early 1990s, have increasingly become targets of deep-sea fishing.

They generally are fished for their flesh, but their liver oil and their skin are also of great commercial value.

The scientific team, led by IRD head of mission and ichthyologist and shark specialist Bernard Séret, included Hokkaido (Japan) University ichthyologist Kazu Nakaya, Paris Museum's Professor Jean Lou Justine, IRD genetics specialist Philippe Borsa, Taiwan's Academia Sinica genetics student Po-Feng Lee, and French Concarneau Museum genetics specialist Samuel Iglesias.

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