Ghost sharks, officially called chimaeras, have been living in the deep sea swimming at great depths of about a mile and half below the ocean long before the time of the dinosaurs. These prehistoric marine creatures, however, are rarely seen and scientists know little about them.
Now, the world has a chance to see this rare deep-sea shark as a video of this creature has finally been released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California nearly six years after it was taken.
The footage, which was published by the National Geographic magazine, is believed to be the first ever video taken of a live pointy-nosed blue chimaera (Hydrolagus trolli), which is often found near New Zealand and Australia, in its natural habitat.
If the creature is confirmed to be a pointy-nosed blue chimaera, it would also be the first discovery of the species in the Northern Hemisphere.
Dave Ebert, from MBARI's Pacific Shark Research Center, said that the video was captured out of luck. The footage was captured by a remotely operated vehicle when it was sent for dives in the waters off California and Hawaii.
The geologists who piloted the ROVs were not even looking for sharks, much more the elusive ghost sharks but one of these rarely seen creatures swum up to the ROV's camera.
"Normally, people probably wouldn't have been looking around in this area, so it's a little bit of dumb luck," Ebert said.
Pointy Nosed Blue Ghost Shark
Researchers believe that the creature was a pointy-nosed blue ghost shark as described by a study published in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records in October 2016. The species is said to possess a large but slender body. Its narrow head evenly tapers to a whip-like tail.
"Hydrolagus trolli is a highly distinctive chimaera species, often identified by a combination of the following characteristics: an even blue-gray to pale blue color, a pointed snout, a dark margin around the orbit with dark shadows along edges of the lateral line, and preopercular canal and oral canals usually sharing a common branch," Amber Reichert, from the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and colleagues described the shark in the study.
Unlike other shark species such as the Great White and hammerheads, ghost sharks do not have hundreds of sharp teeth. The creatures thrive by targeting smaller and bottom-feeding prey, crushing them with the mineral plates that they have.