New shark found

PUBLISHED: 02:01 09 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:08 10 June 2010

A WOODBURY Salterton shark spotter has returned from trip-of-a-lifetime and helped uncover what is thought to be a new species of shark, writes Becca Gliddon. Tony Bennett, 46, has spent two weeks in Kuwait with the Shark Conservation Society (SCS) on a

A WOODBURY Salterton shark spotter has returned from trip-of-a-lifetime and helped uncover what is thought to be a new species of shark, writes Becca Gliddon. Tony Bennett, 46, has spent two weeks in Kuwait with the Shark Conservation Society (SCS) on a ground-breaking expedition to identify the number of shark species in the Kuwaiti and Gulf seas.Mr Bennett teamed up with shark conservationist Richard Peirce gathering valuable data which is hoped to become the basis of a much larger study in the future.Keen scuba diver Mr Bennett, who has been a member of the society for several years, said: "Fifteen shark and 12 ray species were confirmed and recorded, and it is possible that a new species has been identified. "Experts are currently assessing specimens found in the market which may be the smoothtooth blacktip shark. Hitherto this species had only been known to exist in the Gulf of Aden where the sole specimen was recorded."The expedition worked on two levels - daily market visits identified and recorded all sharks and rays present, while other teams chummed [placed bait in the water] a selection of sites throughout Kuwaiti waters. "Tiger sharks, bull sharks and great hammerheads are the main dangerous species known to occur and are part of a shark population which is currently not quantified. "The expedition was a valuable first step in establishing what sharks do occur in waters which may be home to up to 30 species."Shark conservationist Mr Peirce began planning the ground-breaking expedition two years ago. He is a past trustee of the Basking Shark Society, co-founder of the International White Shark Exploration Group, sponsor of the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain's tagging programme, partner of the eco-tourist operator Shark Cornwall, director of Richard Peirce Shark Conservation (RPSC), chairman of the UK based Shark Trust, and well known writer and broadcaster on shark conservation affairs.He said: "Our expeditions highlight the plight of sharks to governments and the public, and this expedition is a major research and public awareness achievement. "I am proud of what we achieved and proud of the volunteers who made it possible. I would like to thank the Kuwait Coastguard and Gulf Telecom for their help and support."Over-fishing and habitat degradation is pushing many shark species towards extinction.

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