First Ever Observation of Catsharks Living Inside Sponges
Scientists aboard a research vessel have made an exciting discovery – the first known observation of catsharks living inside sponges. This groundbreaking finding occurred when a large sponge was pulled from the ocean, revealing 30 catsharks hiding within its depths.
This remarkable discovery marks the first time that sponges have been noted as microhabitats used by sharks and other elasmobranchs. During two voyages off the coast of north-western Australia, the researchers found a total of 57 Banded sand catsharks residing within five large sponges.
These unique sharks were found at various depths ranging from 32 to 106 meters. Additionally, their sizes varied from 12 to 39 centimeters. The scientists speculate that this behavior of hiding inside sponges may not be specific to Banded sand catsharks but may also be observed in other shark species.
The researchers suggest that the sharks utilize the sponges as a refuge during the day to avoid potential predators. Interestingly, this behavior is likely to benefit the sponges themselves if the catsharks consume species that pose a threat to sponges.
While some of the catsharks were collected as specimens for further scientific research, the remaining individuals were released back into the ocean, alongside their sponge homes.
The discovery of catsharks living inside sponges has also expanded the known range of Banded sand catsharks by an impressive 250 kilometers to the south. This discovery underscores the crucial significance of intraspecific relationships between different organisms and emphasizes the need for additional research on shark behavior within the vast depths of the ocean.
The scientists are hopeful that future studies will shed more light on the behavior and ecological roles of catsharks and other shark species, ultimately leading to a more comprehensive understanding of these fascinating creatures’ lives.
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