Inflatable Swell Shark One of 300 New Species Discovered in Philippines

Posted on June 27, 2011

Swell Shark

Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences recently conducted an extensive scientific survey of wildlife in the Philippines. One of the species discovered was a new species of swell shark (pictured above). The shark is capable of inflating its stomach with water to bulk up and scare off other predators.

Swell Shark

Other finds included a cicada that makes a distinctive "laughing" call, a starfish that eats sunken driftwood, three lobster relatives that squeeze into crevices instead of carrying shells on their backs and a crab whose pincers are lined with needle-like teeth. MSNBC has a slideshow with several of the new species. The Guardian also has a gallery of photos of some of the newly discovered creatures.

The creatures were all found during the scientists 42-day expedition to survey Luzon Island, which is the largest island in the Philippine archipelago. The researchers say the Philippines is a critically important haven for biodiversity. They also say "its waters likely house more species than any other marine environment on Earth."

Dr. Terrence Gosliner, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the California Academy of Sciences and leader of the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, says, "The Philippines is one of the hottest of the hotspots for diverse and threatened life on Earth. Despite this designation, however, the biodiversity here is still relatively unknown, and we found new species during nearly every dive and hike as we surveyed the country's reefs, rainforests, and the ocean floor. The species lists and distribution maps that we created during this expedition will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this remarkable biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival."

Photos: Stephanie Stone, California Academy of Sciences

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