A ghost shark, also known as a chimaera, has been recorded on camera for the first time ever.
A relative of sharks and rays, the ghost shark has been swimming along the deepest depths of the ocean since long before the days of the dinosaurs, yet people know very little about these mysterious dead-eyed animals. Now, thanks to some accidental footage, it is hoped that some more can be learnt regarding the rarely-seen shark.
Although video of the Ghost shark has only recently been released, it was in 2009 that the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California sent a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, on a number of dives to depths of up to 6,700 feet in waters off California and Hawaii. The researchers were not after, or expecting to see, any evidence of the Ghost shark:
“The guys doing the video were actually geologists,” says Dave Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. “Normally, people probably wouldn’t have been looking around in this area, so it’s a little bit of dumb luck,” he says.
Strangely, one of the fish that the ROV recorded didn’t appear to be a familiar type of Ghost shark. After analysing the video, it was found to be a pointy-nosed blue chimaera, which was particularly intriguing, as it’s a species usually found near Australia and New Zealand, meaning this video could be the first discovery of this species in the Northern Hemisphere.
However to properly confirm this is not an easy task, as they will need to acquire DNA from an actual specimen. To do this, the team will try a number of methods, including using a trawling boat to scrape the depths of the sea.
But even without being able to gather further information, this recording provides much to learn from.
Chimaeras are an incredibly unique animal, sporting channels on their heads and faces that sense movement in the water – handy for catching their next meal; but most incredibly, these sharks have retractable sex organs on their foreheads… Yes, we know what you’re thinking…