Rare Ghost Shark Caught On Camera For The First Time

Posted: Dec 17 2016, 3:45am CST | by , Updated: Dec 17 2016, 3:52am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Rare Ghost Shark Caught on Camera for the First Time
Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
 

The ghost-like shark was spotted in the depths of Hawaii and California waters

A rare deep sea predator has been filmed alive for the very first time off the coast of Hawaii and Central California.

The pale, ghost-like shark was known to live only in the depths of Australia and New Zealand waters but in 2009, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute caught the glimpse of the shark off the coasts of Hawaii and California too. It was the first time when the rare species was spotted in Northern Hemisphere. 

According to National Geographic, the ROV was sent to as much deep as 6,700 feet and this footate is beleived to be the only images of the rare species in its natural habitat.

Named Hydrolagus trolli, the unusual fish belongs to chimaera, an ancient and bizarre group of fishes that swam through the ocean long before existence of the dinosaurs. The species is a distant relative of both sharks and rays that diverged from other groups some 300 million years ago.

Ghost sharks have unique physical appearance. They have retractable sexual appendages on the forehead, in front of the pelvic fins and on single pair of gills. The fish can grow up to 5 feet, which makes it smaller than its prehistoric counterparts.

The species was named in honor of artist Ray Troll. The fish looks like the artwork of the Alaskan artist. Like sharks, chimaera’s skeletons do not contain cartilage or bones. Instead, they have fragments of cartilage in their bodies.

The species was first described in 2002 when 23 individuals were captured off New Caledonia waters. Then again, they were spotted in 2009 in the waters of northern hemisphere. But researchers were not sure whether it was the same species. Nevertheless, the new fish did not look like either of the two species of ghost sharks previously identified from off the California coast.

In order to confirm its identity, researchers require a DNA sample from actual specimens and then they will compare it with other known species. If it turned out to be the exact species, it will help determine the number of Hydrolagus trolli or pointy-nosed blue chimaera in the waters off California and Hawaiian islands. If it does not, it likely represents a new species. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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