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Latam Eco Review: Kissable sharks and spectacled bears

The most popular stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, followed a new green-eyed shark species in Belize, salmon farms in Patagonia, blast fishing in Peru, a cocaine-laden plane in a Peruvian park, and an Andean bear mystery, also in Peru.

Belize’s tiny sixgill shark species at risk

“A little shark so adorable, you want to hug and kiss it,” is how a researcher described the Atlantic sixgill shark (Hexanchus vitulus), a new species found in the depths of Belize’s oceans. First thought to be a bigeye sixgill shark (Hexanchus nakamurai), a genetic study showed this small green-eyed shark is a new species. However, deep-sea fishing threatens its existence.

Atlantic sixgill shark. Image courtesy of Ivy Baremore, MarAlliance.

Rock, paper, gunpowder: Peru fisherfolk fight blast fishing

Blast fishing is destroying the biodiversity in Peru’s oceans to supply Lima’s big markets and restaurants. Without state support, fisherfolk defend their livelihoods armed only with rocks. Multiple coastal areas are affected, including underwater banks, fish nurseries and the coastal resource zones of the Chincha Islands in the Paracas National Reserve.

Just enough gunpowder is used so fish suffer internal damage, but their bodies can still be sold. Image by LaPrensa.com.ni.

Locals left out of Colombia’s Pisba plain demarcation

In the highlands of central Colombia, 6,500 rural farmers hope the government will consult them in the demarcation of the Pisba Plain. They fear they will lose their lands and their livelihoods. Meanwhile, coal mining continues in this fragile ecosystem.

Espeletia are typical plants of this grassland ecosystem. Image by Dainel Reina Romero/Semana Sostenible.

Salmon industries enter Argentina’s pristine waters

Argentine civil society groups, including environmentalists, scientists and Patagonia residents, are organizing against an industrial fishing model they believe will adversely affect the environment, tourism and local fishing production, and undermine alternative projects underway to develop more sustainable aquaculture. Earlier this year, Argentina signed an agreement with Norway, the world’s main salmon producer, to study the feasibility of developing salmon farms in the country, specifically in the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego.

Farmed salmon. Image courtesy of Meridith Kohut/WWF Chile.

Cocaine plane found in Peru’s Bahuaja-Sonene Park

Anti-narcotics officials intercepted a small plane with 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of cocaine in Bahuaja-Sonene National Park in southeastern Peru. The news confirmed information revealed in May by Mongabay Latam’s special report, “Bahuaja-Sonene in Danger,” of clandestine runways inside this protected area.

Police found 30 kilos of cocaine inside the plane. Image courtesy of the Anti-narcotics Bureau of the National Police of Peru.

Andean bear slaughter reveals Colombia’s neglect

Andean bears are vital for the natural regeneration of Colombia’s forests, says biologist Mauricio Vela in an interview with Mongabay Latam. Despite continuing news of the slaughter of spectacled bears (Tremarctos ornatus), the biggest threat to them is a dearth of information. “We don’t know the biological or ecological consequences of these losses because we don’t know how many bears we have,” Vela says.

Colombian indigenous peoples have traditionally associated the Andean, or spectacled, bear with water and fertility. Image courtesy of the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation/Phoenix Zoo.

Read these stories in their entirety in Spanish here at Mongabay Latam.

Banner image shows a guira cuckoo (Guira guira), a bird found throughout the Amazon; its habitat extends from Brazil to central Argentina. To see more like it, follow Mongabay Latam on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.