Rare Ghost Shark Caught on Video for the First Time Ever

People are getting a rare and exciting look at an elusive ghost shark in its natural habitat, thanks to newly released footage.

Ghost sharks, who are also known as rabbitfishes and ratfishes, are part of an unusual family of fishes called chimaeras. Their closest living relatives are sharks, but they’re believed to have branched off from sharks about 400 million years ago.

Back in 2009, researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) accidentally captured footage of a ghost shark after sending a operated vehicle, or ROV, thousands of feet below the surface in the waters off of California and Hawaii.

Scientists from MBARI, the California Academy of Sciences and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) believe this is the same type of ghost shark who was only known to live deep in the waters around Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.

Even though ghost sharks aren’t a new discovery – there are dozens of known species around the world – this marks first time this particular type of chimaera has been captured alive on film. Despite their elusive reputation, this one wasn’t camera shy.

“It’s almost a little comical,” Dave Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Center at MLML told National Geographic. “It would come up and bounce its nose off the lens and swim around and come back.”

The chimaera they captured is believed to be a Hydrolagus trolli, as they’re scientifically known, who was first named in 2002. They’re more commonly known as the pointy-nosed blue chimaera and while their presence was known in the Southwestern Pacific, this also potentially marks the first time one has been seen anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.

Their unique ghostly appearance and features are only added to by other fascinating characteristics. The males, for example, have retractable penis on their heads, adding to their intrigue.

To find out if this really is a pointy-nosed blue chimaera, researchers would need to collect one and take a DNA sample to compare with other known species, but given the depths this creature lives in, and the difficulty involved in capturing one, it could be a while.

If this isn’t the type of chimaera that scientists suspect it is, it could be an entirely new species. Until there’s further evidence, we’ll just have to marvel over what we know so far about the mysteries of the deep sea and the creatures who live there.

Photo credit: MBARI/Youtube

176 comments

Robert N
Rob Chloe Sam N8 months ago

What a beautiful creature, Now leave them alone.

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Marie W
Marie W9 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla10 months ago

Awesome; the more we know about the species on this planet the more we can protect them.I wouldn't be surprised they are endangered already.....

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Georgina E M
Georgina M10 months ago

THANK YOU..very interesting

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H10 months ago

And again...we can't leave amazing alone. What idiots. Do we really have to "KNOW" everything. Leave nature and its' animals alone.

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Onita Northington
Onita Northington11 months ago

Very interesting. Why can't they just be left alone?

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Frances Bell
Frances Bell11 months ago

And.... the animal has to be killed to be studied and classified - and who knows how many of these are really in the ocean? Can we afford to lose even one for the sake of "research"?

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus11 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Philip W
Philip Watling11 months ago

Such an amazing looking fish :)

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Birgitta O
Birgitta O11 months ago

Tfs. So eerie and beautiful in its movements - I understand the artist's fascination for them.

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