Ghost Shark Species Captured on Camera for the First Time

posted: 07/14/17
by: SharkWeek.com Staff
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This pointy-nosed blue chimaera (Hydrolagus cf. trolli) was videotaped by MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle Tiburon near the summit of Davidson Seamount, off the coast of Central California at a depth of about 1,640 meters.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

When you live more than a mile deep in the ocean, you don't get seen by humans very often. And so when you're caught on camera -- especially when you look a little freaky -- it's a big deal.

Hence the hubbub when Hydrolagus cf. trolli -- also known as the pointy-nosed blue chimaera -- was captured on video by remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) off the coasts of Hawaii and California. Well, especially since scientists had no idea this species of ghost shark lived anywhere but in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.

First, we should explain that a ghost shark isn't a shark. It's a chimaera. Chimaeras are closely related to sharks, though, and, like sharks, their skeletons are made of cartilage and their males have claspers for internally fertilizing eggs in females.

But there are differences as well. Ghost sharks grind food using tooth plates instead of teeth, for example, and males happen to sport retractable sex organs ... on their heads. And those odd stitch-like lines that you see on H. trolli? Those are sensory organs that can sense minute movements and vibrations in the water, alerting the ghost shark to potential prey.

Funnily enough, this discovery by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute scientists was a happy accident. Sharks weren't even on the agenda; the ROV pilots were geologists conducting deep-water geological surveys -- and more than a decade ago to boot (although researchers only released the footage and published their ghost-shark findings in October 2016).

But not only do these resulting -- and amazing -- six videos provide evidence that this species of ghost shark calls the Northern Hemisphere home, it shows they aren't camera-shy, either.


Speaking of swimming for the camera, if this footage only whets your appetite for otherworldly creatures, scientists filmed another species of ghost shark (there are almost 40 known species to date), which aired during 2014's Shark Week. Enjoy!

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The Haunting Ghost Shark

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