A rare young ghost shark, a little-known type of fish that dwells in the gloomy depths of the ocean, has been discovered by New Zealand scientists.
Ghost sharks, also known as chimaera, are extremely unusual to come across, and sightings of their offspring are equally rarer.
The freshly hatched shark was discovered at a depth of 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) on the South Island.
The discovery, according to scientists, adds to our understanding of the species’ juvenile stage.
Dr Brit Finucci, a member of the team, described the discovery as a “nice find” that happened by chance while performing a study trawl of underwater communities.
“Deep water animals are very difficult to locate, and ghost sharks in particular are notoriously enigmatic,” she told reporters. “As a result, we don’t get to visit them very frequently.”
Because the newborn shark’s tummy was still full of egg yolk, experts from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research think it had just hatched.
Ghost shark embryos grow in egg capsules on the seafloor and feed on the yolk until they are ready to hatch.
Young ghost sharks might have distinct traits than adult ghost sharks, according to Dr. Finucci, making the discovery even more noteworthy.
“Juveniles may live in a variety of environments, eat a variety of foods, and even look very different from adults.”
“Finding the youngster allows us to have a better understanding of the species’ biology and ecology,” she added.
The first stage, according to Dr. Finucci, will be to determine the species of the young shark.
“We’re going to take a little tissue sample and conduct some random genetics,” she explained. “After that, we’ll take a variety of morphometrics, or body measurements, to assist us figure out what species we’re looking at.”
Ghost sharks are a type of fish closely related to sharks and rays, however they are not sharks. They are cartilaginous, which means their bones are mostly made of cartilage, giving them an uncanny, ethereal appearance.
The majority of ghost shark species reside in the deep sea, although a few species choose to live in shallow coastal regions.