A ghost shark has been captured on video off the coast of central California, thinks the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
The pointy-nose blue chimaera – the type of ghost shark that MBARI researchers believed they filmed – are elusive and live in the deep in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, reported the Washington Post. Video footage of the shark was first captured in 2009 by a remotely operated vehicle at a depth of 6,700 feet, or more than mile under water.
Researcher Lonny Lundsten showed the video to three chimaera experts and all believed the fish was a pointy-nosed blue chimaera, said the Post. Identified in the video by its scientific name Hydrolagus trolli, researchers still appeared to pause in positively identifying the fish.
The video, which was posted on YouTube in October, has gone viral with more than 695,000 views.
"In their paper, researchers refer to the fish as Hydrolagus cf. trolli," Kim Fulton-Bennett said the institute's website. "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," Fulton-Bennett continued.
Capturing one of the ghost fish would be a tough chore, considering the depths at which they swim, along with being "too large, fast, and agile to be caught" by a remotely operated vehicle, noted the institute.
The institute said similar looking fish have also been seen off the coasts of South America, Southern Africa, and the Indian Ocean.
"If these animals turn out to be the same species as the ghost sharks recently identified off California, it will be further evidence that, like many deep-sea animals, the pointy-nosed blue chimaera can really get around," wrote Fulton-Bennett for the institute.
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