FunNature & AnimalThey discover a strange 'ghost shark' in the Pacific

They discover a strange 'ghost shark' in the Pacific

A team of researchers has discovered an exceptionally rare and newborn “ghost shark” near New Zealand’s South Island, according to the country’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

The newborn deep-sea shark (about 10 centimeters long) was collected at a depth of about 1,200 meters on the Chatham Rise in eastern New Zealand. These ghost sharks are cartilaginous relatives of sharks and rays. It is a boneless fish that is also known as a chimera. It is translucent, gelatinous, and topped with a pair of gigantic black eyes on its pointed head.

“It sat in the palm of my hand,” said Brit Finucci of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Scientists believe that it hatched just before it was captured . The newly hatched chimaera ended up in the net during a recent NIWA trawl survey to estimate the population of another local fish, the hoki.


Submerged in the depths of the ocean

These deep-sea dwellers diverged from their relatives, the sharks and rays, about 300 million years ago. And although ghost sharks have been in the deep long before the dinosaurs, we know very little about them . As a curiosity, males have a retractable sexual organ on their heads.

“From better-studied chimaera species, we know that juveniles and adults can have different dietary and habitat requirements. Juveniles also look different from adults and have distinctive color patterns. Finding this ghost shark will help us better understand the biology and ecology of this mysterious group of deep-sea fish,” Finucci says.

Because they are so rarely seen, experts say any new discoveries offer an opportunity to learn more about them.

Ghost sharks are native to the South East Pacific, mainly around Australia and New Zealand, and several species can only be found in these areas.

Further testing and genetic analysis will be needed to determine the exact species , as the largest species can reach up to 1.5 meters in length.





Reference: NIWA Research Institute in Auckland, New Zealand.

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