Epaulette Sharks can walk on land for 2 hours!

Florida Atlantic University biologists made this enthusiastic study

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Epaulette Sharks can walk on land for 2 hours!

A species of shark is adapting to the climate crisis and warming of the oceans, managing to walk on land for at least two hours. This is the Epaulette shark or Hemiscyllium ocellatum. This species lives between the shallow coral reefs of Australia and New Guinea.

This shark can walk up to 30 meters on land using paddle-shaped fins and survive hypoxia. Florida Atlantic University biologists made this enthusiastic study. Marianne Porter, professor of biomechanics in FAU's department of biological sciences, told: "The results to date suggest that this species has adaptations to tolerate some, but perhaps not all, of the harsh conditions predicted for the 21st century.

Sharks they are able to walk slowly and quickly, as well as swim, giving them an exceptional ability to cross land to reach more favorable environments that other species did not possess." FAU also explained: "Such locomotor traits may not only be key to survival, but may also be related to their sustained physiological performance in harsh environmental conditions, including those associated with climate change." Also a 2020 study by University of Queensland researchers and international partners, meanwhile, found that at least nine shark species used their fins to walk in shallow water.

Epaulette shark

This species is classified as minimally endangered by the IUCN red list because it is common, but its population needs to be monitored because several specimens are accidentally caught while fishing and because this species is quite sought after for aquariums.

Another danger it could suffer from is the degradation of its habitat. This species is however widespread in some marine protected areas and is not dangerous for humans. It comes from the coral reefs of the western Pacific Ocean, in particular from Australia and New Guinea.

It is a species that swims at shallow depths in areas rich in corals and which has adapted to survive in anoxic waters as it often swims in pools with little water exchange. It is especially common in the Great Barrier Reef.

It has an elongated, cylindrical body. The head does not have a particularly pointed profile and the eyes are small. The maximum recorded length is 107 cm. The color is mainly pale brown with small dark spots all over the body, bands at a more or less regular distance of a more intense brown.

Behind the head, just above the pectoral fins, are two large black spots with a white border. The belly is pale, the two dorsal fins are small and very backward.