This shark species had never been known before in the scientific community, and giving it a name was a task eventually solved by 8-year-old kids.
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It is called Ninja Lanternshark, but its scientific name is Etmopteus benchleyi, named after Peter Benchely, author of Jaws and an avid lover of all things shark.
Ninja Lanternshark has a jet-black skin and very large bulbous eyes. And it has special skin cells that enable it to glow faintly in the dark, ocean depths. The skin glow is produced by photophores in the shark’s skin to compensate for the limited sunlight reaching down to their depths.
Their jet-black skin enables them to blend with the dark recesses of their habitats, and they are also able to sneak up on prey while being difficult to sight by larger predators.
Vicky Vásquez of the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) in California had a difficult acquiring a name initially for this new ocean animal.
“We don’t know a lot about lanternsharks. They don’t get much recognition compared to a great white,” Vásquez said. “So when it came to this shark I wanted to give it an interesting story.”
But while discussing the new shark species with her 8-year-old cousins, the kids named the fish “Super Ninja Shark” because of its black skin, stealth ability, and sleek appearance; but Vásquez knew professionals colleagues would not like that name, so she got the kids to modify it and they all came up with Ninja Lanternshark.
“Taxonomy can sometimes be kind of dry, but the naming thing always gets people excited,” said Dave Ebert, program director for the PSRC. “About 20 percent of all shark species have been discovered in just the last ten years. My whole research is looking for ‘lost sharks’.”
This is the first lantershark to be discovered off the waters of Central America, and Ebert underscores the fact that several species of sharks and marine creatures are out there waiting to be discovered – something he will be committing himself to.