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Piranha Among 13 New Species of Venezuelan Fish

by RSS Feed | December 01, 2006

Scientists have found a new type of piranha and a ray among 13 new species of freshwater fish in an area of Venezuela where pollution from gold mines is emerging as a threat, a conservationist said on Thursday.

"There was a very high diversity of life," said Leeanne Alonso, a director of Washington-based Conservation International, of a three-week survey of wildlife at the confluence of the Orinoco and Ventuari rivers.

Among 13 species of fish believed to be new to science were a ray, a miniature catfish and a type of meat-eating piranha. The scientists also found a small type of shrimp, also previously undocumented.

"The region is still very pristine but we want to ensure protection before its too late," Alonso told Reuters. Conservation International is a non-profit group seeking to protect the diversity of life on the planet.

"The main threat is the illegal gold mining," she said.

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