New shark species glows

Lodi News-Sentinel - - NATION - By Ricky Pinela

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.

MARK DOOSEY/TU­LANE UNIVER­SITY

The newly iden­ti­fied Amer­i­can Pocket Shark, shown here, was first dis­cov­ered in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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