Bros, there’s a few things you should know about me: 1) I came out of the womb with a fishing rod in my hand, 2) I don’t think the words ‘too expensive’ can ever apply to whiskey, and 3) I love blogging about rare marine species like the Ghost Shark (Chimaera). It’s been a while since the last time we saw any news regarding the Ghost Shark, but a pointy-nosed blue chimaera (Hydrolagus trolli, order Chimaeriformes), was just filmed swimming alive for the first time ever, and it’s also the first time this species has been filmed in the Northern Hemisphere.
Typically found in deep sea waters off Australia, the pointy-nosed blue chimaera was filmed by an unmanned ROV, remotely operated vehicle, during a Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute mission in the waters off of California and Hawaii. They weren’t hunting for the elusive chimaera, but when pouring over the ROV footage a pointy-nosed blue chimaera is exactly what they found.
This footage below is from the Gulf of California, and it was actually filmed back in 2009, but up until recently, the researchers believed they’d filmed a new species of chimaera. In a recently published paper, it turns out that the ‘new species’ is actually the same deep sea pointy-nosed blue chimaera that’s been known to live in Australian waters:
In total, the ROV observed this large, deep sea chimaera six times. As mentioned before, this is the first time one of these chimaeras have ever been filmed alive. Typically, when this human beings come in contact with this shark it’s either found in the belly of a larger species or it’s dead and has floated up to the surface and/or onto a beach.
In their paper, researchers refer to the fish as Hydrolagus cf. trolli. The letters cf. indicate that the researchers believe the physical characteristics of the fish they saw closely match the official species description for Hydrolagus trolli. Their alternative hypothesis is that the fish in MBARI’s videos are an entirely new species of ghost shark.
The researchers note that they can’t positively identify the ghost sharks in the ROV video without actually collecting one of them and bringing it back to the surface. This is much easier said than done, because these fish are generally too large, fast, and agile to be caught by MBARI’s ROVs. If and when the researchers can get their hands on one of these fish, they will be able to make detailed measurements of its fins and other body parts and perform DNA analysis on its tissue. This would allow them to either remove the cf. from their species description, or assign the fish to a new species altogether.
Such an exciting time to be alive.
There are many types of chimaeras out there, some creepier than others. I just think it’s dope that we’re still finding new species (alive) at a time when species all across teh globe are dying off faster than any time in recorded history.