Marine biologists from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries say the discovery of breeding between the two related but genetically different species is unprecedented and has implications for the entire world’s shark species.
They say the interbreeding between Australian blacktip sharks and the more common blacktips is creating stronger offspring, more able to cope with a wider range of conditions.
The Australian blacktips are able to live only in tropical waters, while the hybrids have been found in cooler seas, 1,200 miles closer to the Antarctic.
“If it (the Australian blacktip) hybridizes with the common species, it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridizing is a range expansion,” said lead researcher Jess Morgan.
The discovery was made by analyzing genetic samples from sharks swimming off Australia’s east coast.
Photos: Queensland Dept. of Primary Industries and Fisheries