You’re Not Going To Belize This Hammerhead Shark News

Despite being a world-class destination for scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing, the waters of Belize are home to an incredible diversity of marine life, and scientists are working overtime to classify and study the unique creatures that can be found in the country.

Just this week, the Belize Fisheries Department announced the discovery of a brand-new species of shark. Found by a joint research team featuring the Fisheries Department and shark specialist Dr. Demian Chapman of Florida International University, the new species of shark most closely resembles the Bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo).

Dr. Demian Chapman and his team have been working in Belize since 2008, studying shark species, many of which are regulated by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species. Dr. Demian Chapman focuses on hammerhead sharks, and the team discovered the brand-new species in 2016 during a tagging expedition to track the movement of shark populations in Belize. Dr. Chapman's preliminary conclusion is that the new species is a cross between hammerhead and bonnethead sharks.

Hammerhead sharks are relatively rare in the offshore waters of Belize but the smaller bonnethead shark species are commercially fished. For conservation purposes, the United States and Belize have strong management measures in place that regulate the volume and fishing methods permissible for bonnethead sharks. Prior to the discovery of the new species, the scientific consensus was that disparate populations of bonnethead sharks in one region have been unable to cross-breed with one another since being separated millions of years ago.

"The recent discovery of a new shark species in the offshore waters of Belize is phenomenal news," said Rhoda Gill, marketing and sales manager at Caves Branch. "The unique natural environments of Belize are home to thousands of amazing species, many of which are currently being studied and cataloged by scientists. Who knows what they will find out there next?"

Caves Branch is a pioneer of adventure travel to Belize. For over 20 years, Caves Branch has been introducing visitors to the wonders of nature in the country with a strong focus on protecting Belize's pristine flora and fauna.

Caves Branch Jungle Lodge offers a number of all-inclusive jungle and sea vacations to that travelers can enjoy all of the best outdoor activities and nature spots in the country, including the offshore reef where the new shark species was recently discovered. We invite you to come and discover your own adventures and experience the uniqueness of our beautiful Belize!

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