Rare baby ‘ghost shark’ discovered off New Zealand coast

It is at a depth of 1200 meters near South Island in New Zealand that an astonishing discovery took place. The NIWA or National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has just confirmed the discovery of a very rare “ghost shark” that has just hatched.

Also called a chimera, the specimen has a pointed head on which are two large black eyes, and a translucent, gelatinous body. Its physical appearance is vaguely reminiscent of an alien, but researchers believe it likely belongs to one of fifty known species of ghost sharks living in the depths of the globe’s underwater world.

According to NIWA, chimaeras are quite similar to sharks and rays which are fish with a cartilaginous skeleton instead of a bony skeleton.

Ghost shark? What’s this ?

The name “ghost shark” comes from the physical appearance of adult chimeras that resemble ghosts. Living in the dark depths of the ocean, their appearance is worthy of a horror movie.

According to NIWA researchers, ghost shark embryos develop in capsules deposited on the seabed, feeding on egg yolk until they hatch. Due to their small size and exceptionally deep habitat, encountering babies is extremely rare and researchers have little information about them. According to Brit Finucci, a scientist from NIWA, the individual discovered probably just hatched since its abdomen was still filled with egg yolk.

A chance discovery

In order to estimate the population size of hoki, a local fish variety commonly used in commercial products, NIWA had conducted a survey at around 1200 meters depth off the coast of New Zealand. It was during this operation that the newly hatched chimera ended up in the nets of the researchers.

Further genetic testing is planned to be conducted to try to identify the species to which the fished individual belongs. By comparing the latter with an adult of its species, scientists will be able to study the changes in color, size, but also in eating habits between the baby stage and that of adulthood.

SOURCE: Livescience

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