Insight & Analysis

Baby shark, do do, do do do do

Published: Mar 2022

A rare baby ghost shark has been discovered off South Island, New Zealand.

Chimaera, ghost shark

A rare baby ghost shark has been discovered by scientists off the east coast of South Island, New Zealand. Ghost sharks are very rarely seen, as they usually hide in the deep sea.

The infant shark, also known as a chimaera, was discovered at a depth of 1.2km (0.7 miles) on the Chatham Rise. Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said the deep-water ghost shark must have recently hatched as its stomach was still full of egg yolk.

The shark embryos, laid on the sea floor, develop within an egg capsule and feed off the yolk until they are ready to hatch.

The team stumbled across the newly hatched ghost shark whilst carrying out a trawl survey to estimate populations of hoki fish. Dr Brit Finucci, a member of the team, said of the very rare find: “It’s quite astonishing. Most deep-water ghost sharks are known adult specimens; neonates are infrequently reported so we know very little about them.”

She told the BBC: “Deep water species are generally hard to find, and like ghost sharks, they tend to be quite cryptic.”

As ghost sharks mature, they often change their characteristics. Living in different habitats, with different diets, they can look significantly different. This discovery will allow scientists to better understand the biology and some of the ecology of the species.

Did you hear about the ghost shark? It vanished into fin air…

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