What are you supposed to say when a shark walks up to you? Kalabia, of course.

Reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL 62035, USA

The great wide world of sharks doesn’t cease to amaze me. It’s mind boggling just how many different varieties of body shapes, lifestyles, geographical locations are represented among the species we call “shark”.  So, here is a report int he Guardian, about an unusual shark, which is called a walking shark in Western literature, but locally is called “kalabia”.  The article was prompted by new discoveries in the living range of populations and species of walking sharks.

The article

‘Walking sharks’ at greater risk of extinction than previously thought

Bizarre “walking sharks” are at a greater risk of extinction than previously thought, with new information about their distribution leading researchers to expect greater efforts to protect them from human threats such as fishing and climate change. Bamboo sharks include nine species of sharks that swim and “walk” in shallow waters around northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Indonesia.

A little extra info

Indonesia memang tidak pernah habis dengan hal-hal yang unik. Salah satu hal unik yang bisa kita temukan adalah keberadaan hiu berjalan yang ada diperairan Kepulauan Raja Ampat, Papua Barat. Kalabia – begitulah masyarakat Papua memanggilnya – memang berbeda dengan jenis-jenis hiu yang lainnya yang selama ini kita kenal keganasannya dan sangat aktif bergerak di air. Ikan hiu ini lebih suka bergerak dengan menggunakan dua sirip pectoral/dada dan dua sirip ventral (perut), sehingga seakan-akan hiu ini bergerak dengan cara merayap di dasar laut.

Now that we discussed this matter in the Indonesian language, let’s try it in English.  However, even in English we have to mention the species name pictured in the article: Hemiscyllium freycineti.

These shark species share properties like a small size (about 3 feet), a large “eye spot” at the front of the body, and a disproportionately long posterior to their bodies.  They are also called bamboo sharks, and epaulette sharks.  There is a total of nine species, the last species was discovered in 2013.  Could there be undiscovered species out there?  To find these sharks you have to look at shallow reefs and tidal pools around dusk.  These sharks tolerate being out oft he water for about an hour, so they crawl from tidal pool to tidal pool in search of their prey of worms, and crustaceans.

While these species are mildly threatened by the aquarium trade, and habitat degradation, a new study determined that these sharks have populations that do not overlap.  This could potentially mean that a population may be wiped out by natural disasters or environmental hazards.  Let’s hope it doesn’t happen to such a friendly and beautiful animal like the kalabia.

My ceramic creations are always influenced by the looks of animals, and I might begin to experiment with the image of the eye spot of the kalabia.  Also, the tracks a walking shark makes might be interesting to picture on ceramic tiles.

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