New shark species glows
A group of researchers has discovered a new species of pocket shark, which was caught in the Gulf of Mexico nearly a decade ago.
The shark is only 5.5 inches long and has been identified as the American Pocket Shark, based on its similarities to a specimen captured in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in 1979, according to Tulane University.
Mark Grace of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said: “In the history of fisheries science, only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported. Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare.”
Researchers noticed a few differences between the two fish, including fewer vertebrae and numerous light-producing photophores that cover most of the body, the report says. On each side near the gills, the sharks have two small pockets that produce luminous fluid.
“The fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf — especially its deeper waters — and how many additional new species from these waters await discovery,” said Henry Bart, director of the Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute.
The newly identified American Pocket Shark, shown here, was first discovered in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.