Ghost sharks are among the oldest known creatures on the planet. These marine animals are older than the dinosaurs. They also happen to be very elusive because they live in the deep sea at depths of 8,500 feet.
Scientists, however, think that a strange-looking fish filmed by geologists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, California, in 2009 is a species of ghost shark, also known as chimaera.
The geologists were not looking for sharks when they sent a remotely operated vehicle for dives but a strange-looking creature swum up to the ROV's camera and was eventually filmed.
Fish In The Video Could Be The Pointy-Nosed Blue Chimaera
Curious about the identity of this creature, the institute reached out to Dave Ebert of the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and other experts who analyzed the video.
Ebert and his team believed the fish is a pointy-nosed blue chimaera (Hydrolagus trolli) albeit with some uncertainty. They said that they need a DNA sample to reach a solid conclusion, which can be difficult given the ghost sharks live below the ocean's surface.
"The only way we can collect these species is by trawling," said marine biologist Dominique Didier, a chimaera expert from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. "So, it's like a snapshot. Imagine trying to understand species distribution in Lake Michigan and you sample the lake using a Dixie cup. Trawling the ocean is like that."
Extended Habitat Range Of Pointy-Nosed Blue Ghost Shark
If the creature captured on the video is indeed the pointy-nosed blue chimaera, the footage reveals information about these prehistoric fishes. The video, for instance, expanded the habitat range of the fish.
The pointy-nosed blue ghost shark is known to thrive in the southern Pacific Ocean off of Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia. The video, however, was taken in the waters off of California and Hawaii, which extends the habitat range of the elusive deep-sea animal.
"The occurrence of Hydrolagus cf. trolli is reported for the first time from the central and eastern North Pacific Ocean," Ebert and colleagues wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records on Oct. 11.
"This is a geographic range extension for this species, as it was previously only known to occur in the southern Pacific Ocean off of Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia."
Different From Other Deep-Sea Creatures
Unlike other deep-sea creatures, the ghost shark also appears attracted to bright lights as evidenced by the creature bouncing its nose off the ROV camera's lens and swimming around it.
The rocky outcrops in the background of the video likewise hint that the pointy-nosed blue chimaeras like this kind of habitat over the flat and soft-bottom terrain where other ghost shark species live.