It says a lot about the state of our world at the moment when news about sharks being able to walk on land goes under the radar. Yes, you read that right. Sharks are now walking on land, NBD.
Back in May, the good people over at Florida Atlantic University observed and recorded something extraordinary, almost unbelievable. Sharks were walking without any struggles.
Now before you barricade your door and self-impose a lockdown in fear of an attack by a sneaky walking Great White, the sharks that have managed to accomplish the impossible are of the smaller variety.
The sharks in question are known as Epaulette sharks and these are usually about three feet long and can be found swimming (and now walking) in the reef flats around Australia’s Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Why are the sharks suddenly walking, you might ask? You can thank the glacier-melting, drought-inducing climate change for it.
The rising temperatures are enabling these sharks to evolve and be able to develop the ability to walk and reach areas where they can survive and look for food.
A 2020 research found that there are atleast nine species of sharks that can walk in shallow waters using their fins, but there are some remarkable traits that set epaulette sharks apart from those.
Epaulette sharks, usually, experience short periods of elevated CO2 and low levels of oxygen. Aside from this, they’re also used to fluctuating temperatures as the reef flats become isolated from the outgoing tide. Researchers believe that these traits make it easier for these sharks to adapt to the conditions on land, including lack of oxygen and difference in temperature.
A little while ago, we learned that polar bears are also now adapting to a warmer climate, thanks to the rising temperatures of the planet, and now we have sharks going against their nature and walking on land.
These walking epaulette sharks can be the perfect model to study and understand the impact climate change would have on vertebrates in general. This would also enable the researchers to understand what the ocean could look like in the future.
We don’t know about you, but walking sharks was not on our list of things we would see in our lifetimes! Time to go re-evaluate our existence.