A shark species that was thought to be wiped from the surface of the earth was not given much attention since the 1970s. But the Pondicherry Shark, a small-sized long-snouted shark belonging to the rare requiem shark family.
We used to be able to find Pondicherry sharks all over the Indo-Pacific region, from the Gulf of Oman to New Guinea. Today, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified it as critically endangered today (IUCN).
There are extremely few species of Pondicherry sharks available for study, and we know really little about this species. The Pondicherry shark population was widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific area, but was most commonly found along India’s coast. The bulk of Pondicherry shark specimens come from India, and according to various old stories, the Pondicherry shark occasionally entered freshwater and was observed in the rivers Hooghli and Saigon. If the reports are correct, the Pondicherry sharks’ limited salinity tolerance could be the cause.
The shark species is truly enigmatic, and not much is known about its natural history. The black tips of the dorsal, pectoral, and Tai fins distinguish it. At the base, the front teeth are serrated, and at the tip, they are smooth.
Throughout its range, it is most likely threatened by increasing fishing pressure. Even though the capture of Pondicherry sharks and their fin-export has been banned entirely throughout the country, shark fishing and trade still persists because sharks, with their keen teeth, look similar and are frequently misdiagnosed by fisherman. Shark fins are in high demand in Southeast Asian countries, while shark meat is consumed domestically. Shark pieces are used in the preparation of Sorrah Puttu and other seafood dishes.
Pondicherry penetrates freshwater rivers within its area every year due to its peculiar lifecycle. This indicates that there is a bottleneck near the river mouths, where all the sharks congregate. Unfortunately, this makes them an easy target for unlicensed gillnetters, which has resulted in the extinction of an already elusive shark species.
Sharks play a crucial role in maintaining an intricate balance in nature. As an apex predator, they help to gauge the ocean’s health. Sharks eat larger predatory fish like groupers, therefore their numbers are likely to increase if they aren’t present. A coral reef system’s herbivore fish life is diminished as the population of larger predatory fish such as groupers grows.
This is clearly indicative of what our actions have led to – they have forcibly pushed an entire species of shark to the brink of extinction. Will this rare shark family simply be the next to be forgotten, and erased off the list of scarce creatures that share the same planet as our? There may not be a single answer, but it is certainly not hard to surmise the answer – it is imperative that we change our ways to protect the Pondicherry sharks.