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Making an extremely unique discovery, the NOAA researchers have found a never seen tiny shark called pocket shark.
The research was led by scientist Mark Grace, who came across the rare discovery while filtering a holding tank of deep ocean water that was collected in 2010.
The researchers carried a comparative analysis of a tissue sample and the massive specimen collection at the Biodiversity Research Institute of Tulane University. It was found that the specimen belonged to a pocket shark, which is named for two small pockets under its fins, whose importance remains unknown. The researchers said that the rare variety of sharks is just the second specimen that has been ever found.
Grace, from the NOAA Fisheries’ lab, said, “The pocket shark we found was only five and a half inches long, and was a recently born male. Discovering him has us thinking about where mom and dad may be, and how they got to the Gulf. The only other known specimen was found very far away, off Peru, 36 years ago.”
The specimen was apparently slurped up when the scientists had captured a big tank of water, which was 190 miles off Louisiana coast. The main purpose of the 2010 expedition of the NOAA’s ship Pisces was to understand the process of the sperm whale feeding in the Gulf.
Until now, the researchers were of the belief that the unique shark was very exclusive to the deep waters of the southeast Pacific Ocean, near Peru and Chile.
The genetic analysis indicates that the pocket shark belongs to the genus Mollisquama. It is closely associated with the cookie cutter and kitefin sharks, which belongs to the family Dalatiidae. According to the scientists, very little is known about the rare shark’s biological composition, behavior and habitat range.
“This record of such an extremely rare fish is very exciting. However, it’s a very important reminder that we still have much to learn about the species that inhabit our oceans,” Grace said.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Zootaxa.