Footage released for Discovery’s Shark Week brings the sight of an epaulette shark walking in shallow water and on land to an amazed world.
If you’re afraid of sharks, you can always avoid swimming in the water. If you’re terrified of sharks, there are a few islands you should avoid as well, because they occasionally venture onto shore. Footage of one doing so has gone viral, albeit it’s probably too little and sweet to deter you from going. It’s not the first time anything like this has been captured on film, but it’s still an incredible sight.
At least nine shark species are known to travel around in shallow water using their fins, and several of them make brief forays totally onto land. One crew was fortunate enough to not only witness such an adventure, but also capture extraordinarily clear film of it.
The clip is from the Discovery Channel documentary Island of the Walking Sharks, which was shot in Papua New Guinea and presented by Forrest Galante as part of Shark Week.
Since the teaser was uploaded on YouTube, it has received considerable backlash on social media for slightly gilding the lily. “This is the first time in history that one of the Papuan species has been observed walking,” Galante asserts, triggering some backlash on Twitter.
As Kevin Connor said in his thread, the walking activity is well known enough that Conservation International is collaborating with people in Indonesia and many scientific institutions to examine it as well as the unique family history of the sharks that do it.
Previous film showed an epaulette shark moving on land with considerably more clarity, however it was an agonizing crawl to avoid being fried by the Sun rather than a jaunt with a spring in its fins. They are even kept as pets by certain individuals.
Even if Galante didn’t get the scoop of the century, it’s still amazingly clear film of something that 99 percent of the world probably didn’t know existed.
The sharks wander on the ocean floor the majority of the time. They may search for tiny fish or invertebrates by lying flat on the floor and putting their heads under rocks and corals. Nine shark species have been observed walking in this manner off the coasts of New Guinea, Australia, and at least three Indonesian islands. Given that four of these were just scientifically characterized in 2020, it’s probable that there are more that have yet to be discovered.
It is unknown how many of these sharks really come out of the water, although some of them are highly suited to make their way back to the ocean when caught by the outgoing tide.
Although the origin of land-dwelling vertebrates would have been a bony fish rather than a shark, walking sharks are likely to provide us with the finest opportunity to discover how something like this arose.
Did we mention it’s adorable?