Bioluminescent organisms are some of nature’s most wondrous creations. The newest member of the group, however, inspires awe and trepidation, thanks to its reputation as a ferocious, unforgiving predator. Meet ninja lanternshark, a newly-discovered species of shark that glows in the dark. Quite a picture, isn’t it?
Found by scientists from California-based Pacific Shark Research (PSRC), in the waters off the coast of Central America, this formidable deep-sea creature lurks around at a depth of about 1,000 meters below the ocean surface. Sporting sleek black skin and big, bulbous eyes, the shark uses its dark appearance as a camouflage, for creeping up on preys.
The shark, scientifically called Etmopterus benchleyi, is named after Peter Benchley, the author of the celebrated 1974 novel Jaws. Measuring roughly half a meter (around 18 inches) in length, the shark possesses special photophores that generate a faint light. This in turn helps it blend into the environment, cloaking it from preys and larger predators. According to the scientists, the sea animal chiefly feeds on smaller fish and shrimp. Speaking about the discovery, Vicky Vásquez, a member of the research team, said:
We don’t know a lot about lanternsharks. They don’t get much recognition compared to a great white. So when it came to this shark I wanted to give it an interesting story.
While naming the creature, Vásquez enlisted the help of her 8-year-old cousins, who came up with “Super Ninja Shark”. The researcher, however, had to scale it back a bit, for it sound more scientific. Dave Ebert, the program director at Moss Landing-based PSRC, added:
Taxonomy can sometimes be kind of dry, but the naming thing always gets people excited… About 20 percent of all shark species have been discovered in just the last ten years. My whole research is looking for ‘lost sharks’.
Via: Hakai magazine