Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gay Sharks?

Andrew hates this picture.

Rather quiet and modest by nature, he was suddenly catapulted into Fiji-wide notoriety (and consequently, had to endure plenty of heckling by the Staff) when Fiji Times decided to ask for his "expert opinion" about this poor lil fella (check out the size of the hand holding it) that had the misfortune of having been caught, and then severely mishandled by a burly fisherman down the coast. Having been offered, we ended up not buying it for fear of starting a new commerce and our hope is that it was finally returned to the Ocean where it belongs.

This is obviously a sub-adult Zebra (often called "Leopard") Shark, an uncommon but locally abundant and totally harmless Indo-Pacific carpet shark. Why do I know it's a sub-adult? Because despite being tiny, it doesn't anymore display the characteristic juvenile zebra pattern that has led to naming the species. Proper Leopard Sharks, by the way, are equally harmless coastal Sharks of the Eastern Pacific. To confuse matters, they display much more of a zebra pattern than Zebra Sharks!

I've seen Zebras all over the place, starting with my first-ever tropical dives in Israel all the way to here in Tonga where it is regularly seen in one specific current-swept channel. But the honey hole must be the Andaman Sea and specifically, the rock of Kho Bon on the way from the Similans to Richelieu Rock. Once you get down below the thermocline, they're absolutely everywhere, beautiful, placid and absolutely unafraid of divers.

And it is precisely from this region that Juerg got hold of a sequence of pictures of two canoodling male Zebra Sharks. Remember my post in July?

Two males?
This being Thailand, could it be that somebody has stumbled across a pair of Zebra Shark ladyboys?

Well, as usual, ah ain't telling!
Go see for yerself on Juerg's research page!
It's the third paper from the top, freshly published.

Enjoy - ain't Science a wonderful thing!!

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