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Extinction Watch: This shark doesn’t need saltwater to survive

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 07, 2020, 12.27 AM IST
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Summary Unlike other members of this family, the eyes of the Ganges shark are tilted dorsally, instead of laterally or ventrally, indicating that it may swim along the river bed scanning the waters above for prey. Its sharp and slender teeth suggest that it is primarily a fi sh-eater. It is often confused with the bull shark, which is known to attack humans

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The shark is endemic to India. It inhabits the River Hooghly in West Bengal, as well as the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, and the Mahanadi. It is amongst the 20 most threatened shark species and is listed as a Critically Endangered species in the IUCN Redlist.

Unlike other members of this family, the eyes of the Ganges shark are tilted dorsally, instead of laterally or ventrally, indicating that it may swim along the river bed scanning the waters above for prey. Its sharp and slender teeth suggest that it is primarily a fi sh-eater. It is often confused with the bull shark, which is known to attack humans.

Its population has been steadily decreasing due to over fi shing, habitat degradation, increasing river utilisation, and building of dams. Its fin and jaws are in high demand in the international trade, and it is also fi shed by locals for its meat and oil. The Ganges shark is a true river shark, which means it does not need salt water to survive.

The rare species that went missing for over a decade was spotted on sale at a local fi sh market in Mumbai, in February 2016, an event that shocked scientists who were studying the animal. The pictures were part of a study published in the Journal of Fish Biology.

Researchers were unsure of where exactly the shark was caught. However, they suggested that it could have been picked up near the north-east coast of the Arabian Sea near Mumbai.
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