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Catch of the day in Borneo uncovers new species

Scientists have travelled to Borneo to study parasites infecting sharks and stingrays. The study has led to the discovery of many new species, and the data has been used to help Australian aquaria control the spread of parasite infections in the sharks and stingrays they have on display.

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An ongoing project investigating the biodiversity of parasites on sharks and stingrays has seen two researchers from the South Australian Museum travel as far as Borneo to work with local fishermen in finding the freshest and most accurate samples. The researchers – Parasitology Collection Manager Dr Leslie Chisholm and Head of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Ian Whittington – were invited to be a part of the study because of their specialist knowledge in monogenean parasites.

New species of both the host animals and the parasites have been discovered during the project and the data have been useful for services such as helping public aquaria control worm infections, improving the health of animals on display.

The project is funded by United States National Science Foundation’s Biotic Surveys and Inventories Program, and its Chief Investigator is Professor Janine Caira from the University of Connecticut, USA. The parasitologists were thrilled to be invited to be a part of the study as they could use their skills to better map the biodiversity of the region and there was a strong likelihood of uncovering many new species. Only a very small number of records of metazoan parasites existed for sharks and rays of this geographic region before the study.

They worked with fish taxonomists from eight different institutions in the USA, Australia,...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

South Australian Museum