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From the Collection: Bigeye Sixgill shark

By: Maxine Kauter, Category: Science, Date: 24 Jul 2012

An interview with Dr Sally Reader about this Bigeye Sixgill Shark which was recently added to the collection.

Bigeye Sixgill Shark, Hexanchus nakamurai

Sally Reader © Australian Museum

After collecting for more than 175 years, the Australian Museum collections are immense. Scientists are continually accessing these collections for research purposes giving us the opportunity to meet the collections one specimen at a time...

What species of shark is this?

Hexanchus nakamurai Bigeye Sixgill Shark. Accesion number I.46072-001

From what location was it collected? Who collected it?

Collected at Lord Howe Island, by Scott Wilson at a depth of 400m.

At what depth does this species usually live?

It lives at depths from 90 m to 600 m in tropical and warm temperate waters.

Does the Museum have any other specimens like it in the collection?

We have 6 other specimens in the collection.

Why is it important to the Museum’s collection?

At 1.5m this is the largest specimen we have of this species and the first caught from around Lord Howe Island. All our specimens were caught at closer proximity to NSW coast. Very little is known about these species. With their more primitive characteristics of the 6 gills (rather than 5) and the single dorsal fin (rather than 2) they are thought to be closely related to species now only found in fossils, some dating back millions of years.

What will happen to the shark now?

The shark was brought into the lab so that a tissue sample could be taken and added to the Frozen Tissue collection for DNA research. The shark will be returned to the collection area and maintained for morphological reseach purposes.