Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Fiji Bull Sharks - Paper!

Yes those would be our samples - click for detail!
That was then and alas, nothing much has come of it.
For some reason that eludes me, Christine never got around to actually publishing the relevant paper, and a later attempt at resuscitating the effort failed due to a general lack of interest and/or funding and/or time, or whatever. Plus I've been told that nowadays, the newest and shiniest tool for population studies is SNP markers and not anymore microsatellite DNA - and I'll most certainly leave it that, the more as that's about as much as I understand.
Or not - so correct me if I'm wrong.

Enter our indefatigable friend Kerstin!
She is now a newly minted, and highly deserving PhD - and the latest paper from her thesis once again confirms that the insular Bull Shark population from Fiji is genetically different, and likely closed = isolated from its continental counterparts. 
In essence, this means that our Bulls are truly unique and that they spend their whole life right here in the archipelago without ever engaging in large transoceanic migrations across deep water trenches and vast distances. And no, they also most definitely do not travel to Vanuatu and Australia for mating as was recently publicly proclaimed from the peak of Mount Stupid!
Obviously, this makes them specially precious but also, especially vulnerable - and Tashi's My Fiji Shark initiative, especially pertinent!
And the taxonomic consequences?
Years ago my ichthyological guru told me that a species is what a geneticist tells you it is - and very sadly and despite of my best efforts all the way to outright begging, the relevant Shark taxonomists remain firmly of the opinion that the present genetic distinction doesn't warrant declaring a new species. 
And when it comes to our Bulls at least being a possible (and I would add: obvious!) subspecies or race, I'm being told that apparently, in Shark taxonomy one just doesnt do that
Oh well - but we will keep on trying!

Anyway, great job!
Oh and - please, Adopt Your Shark Now! 
Thank you.

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