Ghost of the Deep Caught on Film for First Time

The pointy-nosed blue chimaera is better known as a ghost shark
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2016 11:19 AM CST

Scientists using a remotely operated vehicle for geologic research instead spotted a g-g-ghost. National Geographic reports researchers recorded what is likely the first-ever video of a pointy-nosed blue chimaera in the wild more than 6,500 feet underwater off the coast of California. They published their findings in Marine Biodiversity Records. Chimaeras are better known as ghost sharks, "dead-eyed, wing-finned fish" that split off from other sharks and rays 300 million years ago and are rarely seen because of the ocean depths at which they live. (Interesting but unrelated: Male ghost sharks have retracting sex organs on their foreheads.)

The program director for Pacific Shark Research Center says it was "a little bit of dumb luck" researchers got the footage of the ghost shark, which unlike other deep-water creatures appeared to actually like the remotely operated vehicle and its lights. Researchers at first believed the ghost shark was a new species before it was identified as likely a pointy-nosed blue chimaera. That particular species has only ever been seen near Australia and New Zealand, though MBARI notes most deep-water species have surprisingly wide-ranging habitats. It's still possible the ghost shark caught on video is a new species, but scientists won't know for sure until they catch one. (Some of these sharks may be older than the US.)

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