Scientists have made a rare and exciting discovery off the South Island’s coast after locating a baby ghost shark.
Ghost sharks, also known as chimaeras, are a species of fish related to sharks and rays. They’re cartilaginous – meaning their skeletons are primarily composed of cartilage – and they’re often found in deep waters, so naturally they’re rarely seen by people.
They’re rather obscure creatures, and are often described as “dead-eyed, wing-finned fish” that float about the murky depths of the ocean floor.
Sharks have fossil records that date back 400 million years and have even outlived the dinosaurs and other forms of life on Earth. According to AZ Animals, there are over 500 shark species living in the seas and rivers around the world. Several of them look so bizarre and live in the deepest parts of the ocean, such as the rare ghost shark.
Recently, scientists from New Zealand were able to find a newly-hatched deep-water ghost shark that made international headlines. However, scientists said that this species is not a real shark
Newly-Hatched Ghost Shark Found in New Zealand
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) scientists were surveying the Chatam Rise off the South Island in New Zealand on February 15 when they discovered a rare baby ghost shark, The Independent reported. It is a little-known species that usually lives in the shadowy depths of the ocean.
In a statement released by NIWA, they said that the neonate or newly-hatched ghost shark was collected at a depth of approximately 1,200 meters (0.7 miles) on the Chatham Rise. Dr. Brit Finucci, a member of the team, called it a “neat-find” and said that it was accidentally discovered during their research of underwater populations.
The team remarked that the discovery further deepens their understanding of the juvenile stage of ghost sharks. Dr. Finucci told the BBC that deep-water species are rarely found and discovering them tends to be quite cryptic, so they are not often seen.
NIWA researchers believed that the baby ghost shark had just recently hatched since its belly was still full of egg yolk. Ghost shark embryos develop in egg capsules laid on the seafloor and feed off a yolk until they are ready to hatch. Dr. Finucci added that young ghost sharks look different from their adult counterparts.
“Coming across the juvenile helps us better understand the biology and some of the ecology of the species,” BBC quoted Dr. Finucci. Their recent findings could be a first step in learning more about the baby ghost shark species.
Ghost Sharks Are Not A Real Shark
Ghost sharks are not real sharks. They are a species of fish closely related to them and rays. The Smithsonian magazine wrote that ghost sharks are also known as chimeras – cartilaginous fishes related to sharks but with several distinguished differences.
This species only have one gill on either side of the body and most of them live in the deep sea, while a handful prefers to live in coastal waters. Chimeras can grow up to six feet long, depending on what species they are.
Moreover, their eyes are backed with a reflective tissue layer, making them glow in the dark, and contributing to their ghostlike appearance.
According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research, this discovery is extremely rare as ghost sharks (scientifically known as chimaera) primarily reside in the deep ocean waters and are therefore, not easily accessible.
The team of researchers who spotted the newly-hatched ghost shark are hoping that the discovery will enable them to learn more about the “mysterious” species.
Here’s what ghost shark eggs look like.
Brit Finucci, fisheries scientist and researcher, told CNN News, “We don’t actually know a lot about ghost sharks. What we do know mostly comes from adult specimens. So it’s very rare and very uncommon to find juveniles of a lot of these species, so that’s why I got quite excited.”