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September 17, 2021
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Newly discovered Deep Sea Species Named after PNG Marine Biologist

One way of being recognised in the scientific world is to have newly discovered species named after you.

That’s happened to a Papua New Guinean marine biologist who has not one, but two new deep sea species named after him.

The newly discovered species are of a shark, and a shell, found in the deep sea waters of northern Papua New Guinea.

The shark is about a meter long and the shell is about 3cm in length.

They are now scientifically known as ‘Rhinobatos manai’ and ‘Scabrotrophon manai’ respectively, taking after Associate Professor Ralph Mana’s surname.

Prof. Mana from Angoram in East Sepik, was part of three expeditions in 2010, 2012 and 2014, which discovered these species. The expedition was sponsored by the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. They were surveying and studying organisms from a depth of 200 metres to 2,000 metres.

As recognition for this work and his years in the field, Prof. Mana was given this honour.

While he was aware of the naming of the shark, the naming of the shell came as a complete surprise.

He received the good news two weeks ago while he was on his way to a scientific conference in Paris which celebrated 40 years of deep sea studies in the tropics.

The shark was found in 2014 in New Ireland, and the shell first found in Milne Bay in 2010.

Prof. Mana said it’s the first “comprehensive study” of this kind done in the country.

“Fifteen percent of things brought up were new species,” says the Professor.

Very little is still known about these new species, and as for the shark, as it was the only kind of its species caught, under the study MOU, it will be kept in a Museum in Taiwan, while some samples of the shell will be sent back to the University of PNG.

Out of the three expeditions, the two species are not the only new discoveries with names connected to Papua New Guinea.

The scientific world has also adopted the name ‘Yag’, the Bel language name of a new algae found in Madang, and the name ‘Kavieng’ has been given to a new species of crab found in New Ireland.

Prof. Mana said, as a nation that contains a significant volume of the world’s known and unknown biodiversity, it is important that more studies are carried out, especially in the deep sea waters of PNG.

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