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Australian endangered species: Northern River Shark

Morgan, D.L. and Whitty, J.M. (2013) Australian endangered species: Northern River Shark. The Conversation, 18 April .

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The Northern River Shark (Glyphis garricki) is one of the rarest species of shark in the world. It is known only from a small number of locations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea. Discovered in Australia in 1986, only 36 specimens have been recorded here since.

The Northern River Shark is a 2.5-3 metre long shark belonging to a family known as whaler or requiem sharks. Its closest relative in Australia is the Speartooth Shark, also found in northern rivers and estuaries and listed as Endangered by the IUCN. Distinguishing between the two is difficult, but is based on the location of the “waterline”, the point where the darker upper-body colouring of the shark changes to lighter lower colour.

The eyes of the Northern River Shark are also unusually small, and are probably not relied on for finding prey. Instead, the Northern River Shark possess a relatively large concentration of ampullae of Lorenzini. These organs allow the shark to sense the electric fields of other organisms, and find them in the turbid rivers where the shark lives.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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