As far as sharks go, the ground-crawling epaulette sharks are some of the prettiest, most aquarium suitable, and now we have one more species to add to the mix. Discovered in Halmahera in north eastern Indonesia, Hemiscyllium halmahera is the newest species of elasmobranch to be described.
Looking very similar to Hemiscyllium freycineti, the Halmahera epauletter shark also sports a pattern of dark and light spots, albeit in a somewhat less regular appearance. The Halmahera epaulette shark is differentiated primarily based on coloration which is described as “general brown […] with numerous clusters of mainly 2-3 dark polygonal spots, widely scattered white spots in the matrix between dark clusters”.
While we may never see this particular species of epaulettet shark in aquariums, ever, it does offer some hope for other new reef fish from the region. If a large, charismatic shallow water fish like Hemiscyllium halmahera can go unnoticed for so long, then there’s no telling what abundance of freaky small reef fish, gobies, anthias, wrasses and dottybacks are also waiting to be found in the backwater reefs of northeast Indonesia, and at depth.