x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

New species of shark in UAE waters?

A marine biologist believes she may have found two new species of shark in the Gulf.

DUBAI // A marine biologist may soon be lending her name to an entirely new species of shark that she discovered in UAE waters.

Rima Jabado, who has for the last two years been cataloging different shark species in the Emirates, made the discovery recently at a landing site in Ras al Khaimah.

She says her curiosity was sparked by subtle differences in the teeth and the shape of the sharks' mouths.

"They are smaller sharks, similar to the milk sharks," she said. "They don't grow very big. I found very few of them, but they just looked slightly different."

She has been conducting her own genetic analysis of the sharks, and has sent pictures to various taxonomists around the world.

She said that, so far ,she could only be sure that one of the two shark species was entirely new to science, and added that it would need other taxonomists around the world to verify the findings.

"I'm not the one to confirm this," she said. "It needs to go to specialist taxonomists around the world and we need to do genetic work before we can confirm it. It can take sometimes two to three years to describe a new species."

She spent some time in light-hearted speculation about how the new species would be named. "I wish they could be named after me," she said. "Maybe I could auction off the names for more funding, that would be the ideal scenario."

mcroucher@thenational.ae