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Newly discovered deep water fish named after ‘Shark Lady’ (VIDEO, PHOTO)
Scientists have named a deep sea fish newly discovered in the Gulf of Mexico after a trailblazing female marine biologist dubbed ‘Shark Lady’.
Eugenie Clark has been honored for her work in the study of sea creatures, which included founding the Mote Marine Laboratory in the 1950s, by having her name associated with tiny long finned shark – Squalus Clarkae or Genie’s dogfish.
The incredible creature, which is a member of the dogfish family, was uncovered in dark waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The species was previously thought to be a shortspine spurdog shark but researchers have now determined genetic differences as well as a longer body, shorter caudal fin and alternatively proportioned dorsal fin.
Footage posted online by conservation agency MarAlliance shows the minute shark in action about 1,300 foot below the water near Belize.
The full study and new name was announced in the science journal Zootaxa, with authors Dr Toby Daly Engel of the Florida Institute of Technology and Dr Mariah Pfleger of Oceana stating how Eugenie Clark was an inspiration.
“She is the mother of us all,” Daly-Engel said. “She was not just the first female shark biologist, she was one of the first people to study sharks.”
Clarke passed away at the age of 92 after a long and storied career which saw her nicknamed the ‘Shark Lady’. In an obituary, National Geographic reported how Clarke was also a pioneer of scuba diving gear, using equipment new for the time to undertake dangerous scientific research in places like the caves of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
“Dr Clark was a trailblazer for women in shark biology,” said marine scientist Mariah Pfelger. “Her work showed me that was possible to make my mark in a male-dominated field.”
On the topic of the newly classified species of shark, Pfelger added that the discovery was an essential part of conservation in waters that still hold many surprises.
“Many fisheries around the world are starting to fish in deeper and deeper waters and unfortunately, much less is known about many of the creatures that live in the deep. This first step to successfully conserving these species that live in deeper waters, like Genie’s Dogfish, is finding out what is down there.”
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