Scientists combing through undersea wonders off Indonesia's Papau province said on Monday they had discovered dozens of new species, including a shark that walks on its fins and a shrimp that looks like a praying mantis.
The team from Conservation International also warned that the area — known as Bird's Head Seascape — is under danger from fishermen who use dynamite and cyanide to net their catches and called on Indonesia's government to do more to protect it.
"It is one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes and seascapes on the planet," said Mark Erdmann, a senior adviser of Conservation International who led two surveys to the area earlier this year. "Above and below water, it's simply mind blowing," he said.
Erdmann and his team claim to have discovered 52 new species, including 24 new species of fish, 20 new species of coral and eight new species of shrimp. Among the highlights were an epaulette shark that walks on its fins, a praying mantis-like shrimp and scores of reef-building corals, he said.
Conservation International said papers on two of the new fish species, called flasher wrasse because of the bright colours the male exhibits during mating, have been accepted for publication to the Aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology.
The group is in the process of writing papers on the other species, it said.