A mysterious and elusive ghost shark may have made its first video appearance thanks to a lucky, unpredicted chance.
Our planet’s waters still have a lot of mysteries for us. A study just recently introduced us with six new underwater animal species. A lucky break may just introduce us to another.
The rarely seen animal was captured by a study camera. The equipment was set up for a Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute research.
Dave Ebert went to offer details. Ebert is the Pacific Shark Research Center program director. The center is is part of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.
The director stated that it was mostly a chance discovery. He explained that the equipment belonged to a remotely operated vehicle or ROV. The ROV was sent to explore the coasts of California and Hawaii.
Ghost shark specimens are rarely seen. As an inhabitant of the deep ocean, humans rarely spot it. The recently spotted animal may belong to a rare species.
Known as the pointy blue chimera, it was only known to live in the Australian waters. In general, the ghost shark species was called Chimaera.
It is believed to live about one and a half miles below the ocean’s surface. These type of sharks have some unusual and distinctive properties.
Researchers state that they are a relative of both sharks and rays. They are believed to feed on worms, mollusks, and other deep-sea inhabitants.
Ghost shark specimens have a unique appearance. One of their characteristics is a retractable sexual appendage. These are located on their forehead, on single pairs of gills, and in front of their pelvic fins.
The current video is some six years old. It was captured back in 2009. Researchers did not initially spot the shark, but it kept returning.
After spotting the ghost shark, scientists turned to trying to study it. This is how they established that it may be a pointy-nosed blue chimera.
Pointy-nosed or Hydrolagus trolli specimens are believed to inhabit New Zealand and Australia’s deep waters. Previous records have attested the existence of the species.
However, this is the first time such an animal was caught on camera. Not only that but is was actually seen alive in its natural habitat.
The aforementioned Ebert and his team are trying to prove the ghost shark’s species. If they are proven right, this will be the first such specimen discovered in the Northern Hemisphere.
Ghost shark specimens are believed to be fragile. Most die before reaching the water’s surface. In order to categorize the animal, they would need DNA.
And this is not easily obtainable. The team reportedly searched for such sharks in the fish market. But the best and possibly only method is trawling. Such a boat is used so as to scrape the depths of the ocean.
The scientific name of the ghost sharks was an homage. They were named after Ray Troll. Some have pointed out their resemblance to the Alaskan artist’s works.
According to Dominique Didier, more Chimaera specimens are believed to roam Earth’s waters. Didier is a Millersville University in Pennsylvania chimera expert and marine biologist.
The biologist points out the need for more studies of the unusual ghost shark and its relatives. Didier also draws to attention the existence of more than three other chimera species.
As these are all widespread, it could prove to be evidence that ghost shark specimens are far more common than believed.
Research on the subject was carried out by the aforementioned Ebert and his team. Their study was published in the Marine Biodiversity Records.
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