June 3, 2023

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Goblin shark or plastic toy? Scientists retract the supposed sighting record

Controversy has ended in the world of shark science. A group of scientists who published a record of what will be the first goblin shark ever found in the Mediterranean have backtracked on their work. the to retreatfiled on March 20, below Gizmodo’s previous report on the saga.

As a brief reminder: The scientists published a brief description of what they claim is the first goblin shark in the Mediterranean, based on a single low-quality photo provided to them by a citizen scientist in May 2022. The record appeared in the journal Mediterranean Marine Sciences. None of the researchers saw or interacted with that alleged sample directly. The photo purporting to show the previously live shark does not contain scale, and scientists have been unable to firmly report its size.

Goblin sharks, dodge and Distinctive fish (such as nightmares) look like deep-sea fishdocumented in many places around the world but never before in the Mediterranean. If the 2022 record is true, it would mark an important stretch of range that could dictate future research funding or even marine conservation spending. However, many doubt its authenticity.

Shark experts and marine biologists came across the record published last year and expressed online skepticism of A Facebook group and on Twitteras well as in a November 2022 comment published by the magazine. Critics of the record honed the unusual appearance of the photographed sample. They note its fins being solid, completeness, lack of visible damage, an incorrect number of gill slits, small size, and the odd shape of some of the segments, among other things. Simply put: many marine life enthusiasts thought the specimen looked more like a statue than an actual dead shark.

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In response, the study authors doubled down on their view that the sample was real in their lifetime Suspension of your appeal, was published in January. However, the world of shark science remained unconvinced by their arguments, which suggested that the small, odd-looking specimen might be a goblin shark fetus with a deformed mouth by eating eggs in the womb.

Some shark researchers have honed in on a particular plastic toy, for the sake of Sell ​​on eBay, which is strikingly similar to the photographed sample. Gizmodo spoke with marine and plastics experts, all of whom doubted that the photo of the purported sample showed an animal that was once alive.

“In my opinion, it is a model for such a shark,” he said. Jurgen Pollersbockthe independent shark researcher and lead author of the November 2022 commentary, he told Gizmodo in an email last week:

“It’s a lot like a game shark,” says Deep Sea Ecologist Andrew Thaler He also said via email.

“I think it’s very likely that is the case [a] degraded plastic toy Joanna Sippya scientist studying plastic degradation at Duke University told Gizmodo in a March 17 phone call.

Independent shark researcher Matthew McDavitt has produced a multi-page report outlining his suspicions. He told Gizmodo that he tried to submit his own comment to Mediterranean Marine Science but was denied, because the retraction process was already underway.

Now, the study’s authors have officially released an academic conclusion. The retraction note was Released online this week. They apply to both the initial publication as well as to the authors’ follow-up comment. The gist of the notice is brief – even shorter than the retraction address. It simply reads:

The above authors remove these recent publications due to remaining uncertainty because they are based on a visual observation by a citizen (citizen science), with no sample available. The information available was insufficient to support this record which relies solely on photographic evidence and direct contact between the authors and the citizen.

“It’s good that the data has been corrected. This shows that the community control is working,” Pollerspöck wrote to Gizmodo.

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“I do, of course, believe that stepping back is the right decision,” McDavitt said in an email.

Gizmodo reached out to the study’s researchers for more information, but the scientists had not responded by the time of publication. to The Daily BeastDespite this, they wrote that they still believe in the authenticity of the photographed sample:

Although we have every reason to assume that the result was real (many Mediterranean shark experts and [two] Anonymous peer reviewers accepted and supported publication of this paper!), other colleagues caused a completely unethical controversy and claimed that the specimen was a discarded plastic figurine,” said co-author Frithjof Kuepper of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. “In order to avoid further harm, given Since the sample was not preserved by the Anafi (Papadakis) citizen scientist, we decided to withdraw the article.”

So, was it a plastic toy? Was it the first goblin shark ever recorded in the Mediterranean? Although it’s reasonable to speculate, in the end, the world may never know for sure. The sample was not collected. He was simply photographed and left to the mercy of the sea. Goblin sharks may be out there, swimming in the depths of the Mediterranean and washing up on Greek shores. If you think you’ve found a dead body, maybe give it a good squeeze – just to be sure.