Student's Research Project Uncovers 8 New Species of Sharks

© Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Sharks may be he the ocean's most iconic predators, having elicited both fear and fascination throughout the world for centuries -- but when it comes to understanding the breadth of diversity among the species, we may still have a lot to learn.

Earlier this year, graduate student Paul Clerkin from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories set out on a research expedition in search of new shark species, and he found more than just a few. Over the course of two months, while tagging along on a commercial fishery's trawling vessel in the Indian Ocean, Clerkin uncovered at least eight sharks that appear to be previously unknown to the world of science.

READ MORE: 10 Amazing but Endangered Shark Species

The mysterious, and often strange-looking deep-water sharks aren't quite as sleek as their near-surface dwelling counterparts, but are instead adapted for life at depths of around 6,500 feet in a largely unexplored swath of ocean.

"They don’t look like the classic great whites you'll see on Shark Week," the 27-year-old Clerkin told Our Amazing Planet. "I think they're more interesting."

Surprisingly, given the high-profile interest for the aquatic predators, in recent years more than 40 new species of shark have been documented throughout the world.

"Sharks haven't really been explored as much as we think," says Clerkin.

For biologists, the thrill of uncovering new shark species is hardly for thrills alone; many of the 400 or so known sharks are currently listed as threatened or endangered, namely from overfishing -- so such discoveries are often crucial in spurring conservation measures to protect them.

For more photos of the new sharks, visit Our Amazing Planet.

READ MORE: 11 Animals More Likely to Kill You Than Sharks

Tags: Conservation | Oceans | Sharks

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