We’re talking about a freshwater Chondrichthyan today—but it isn’t a ray! Surprise! In fact, it’s a shark. The Irrawaddy River shark, Glyphis siamensis, to be exact.
The Irrawaddy River is known ONE SPECIMEN. That’s it! A single 19th century museum specimen! Isn’t that just mind-blowing?! It’s a testament to how important our museum specimens are. Due to this fact, however, our knowledge is limited. For example, we don’t know their full range. This sole specimen was collected in the Irrawaddy River delta near Myanmar (Steindachner 1896), hence the name! Is it endemic to this river? No clue! That means we also have no idea about how their population is faring. We can assume it isn’t doing well because their mangrove-lined habitat quality is declining due to pollution, fishing and harvesting in the area, waste water, and habitat destruction. Plus it is one of the most heavily silted rivers in the world. Yipee.
Artisanal fisheries also operate within the geographic range of the Irrawaddy River Shark, but it has not been recorded since its description more than 100 years ago. A CENTURY! There have been expeditions to find more, but none have been found. Are they even around anymore? Who knows! But the IUCN has assessed them as Critically Endangered (CE) until we know more.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THIS ANIMAL?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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