By: WCTV Eyewitness News
July 22, 2019
A team of researchers in the Gulf of Mexico have identified a new and intriguing species of shark that glows in the dark, according to CBS News.
Researchers from NOAA and Tulane University determined that the 5.5 inch long kitefin shark is an American pocket shark based on five distinct features, they explained in a Tulane press release.
Researchers say shark was first discovered in 2010 and there is only one other known pocket shark that was found in the eastern Pacific Ocean in 1979.
Mark Grace of NOAA’s NMFS Mississippi Laboratories says that, “only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported. “Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare.”
In 2013, Grace and other researchers began studying the shark by examining its external features as well taking X-rays and CT scans. The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France also assisted in research by producing X-rays 100 billion times brighter than the X-rays used in hospitals.
Compared to the original Pacific Ocean pocket shark, the newly discovered shark from the Gulf of Mexico has a different number of vertebrae, different teeth and has light-producing photophores that covers much of the body. However, the two species both produce a glowing fluid.
CBS News says this is the first pocket shark of its kind to have been reported from the Gulf of Mexico.