A pointy-nosed blue chimaera, also known as a "ghost shark," is believed to have been filmed alive for the first time. A video (below) of the creature was released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in October.
"The guys doing the video were actually geologists," Dave Ebert, of the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, told National Geographic. "Normally, people probably wouldn’t have been looking around in this area, so it’s a little bit of dumb luck."
A recently published research paper by MBARI researcher Lonny Lundsten and his colleagues said the specimens were recently spotted in waters near the Hawaiian Islands and Central California, notes the MBARI website. The location is unusual because the creatures, known scientifically as Hydrolagus cf. trolli, are normally seen in the southeastern Pacific.
This was the first time the ghost shark has been seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
DNA is needed from an actual specimen to confirm the creature on the film is absolutely a ghost shark, which is hard because these types of fish normally swim in deep parts of the oceans and are long dead by the time they float up to the surface.
"[The fish is] almost a little comical," Ebert told National Geographic. "It would come up and bounce its nose off the lens and swim around and come back."
Chimaeras don't have rows of jagged teeth like their relatives, the true sharks, but rather have tooth plates to chew on small prey at extra-deep depths.
Dominique Didier, a marine biologist at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, described to National Geographic how difficult it will be to find more of these types of fish:
The only way we can collect these species is by trawling. 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. I suspect many species are wide-ranging -- we just don't have the data. [They] are just one of the many beautiful and poorly studied species that shares this planet with us.