The depths of the sea hide many bizarre creatures that scientists have not yet managed to describe. A terrifying-looking deep-sea shark was recently pulled from the deep sea off the coast of Australia. Scientists cannot agree on what the species is and it is very likely to be a new species. The Live Science portal reported on this discovery.
The fisherman was surprised by the unusual catch
The shark was pulled from the sea by a fisherman who calls himself Trapman Bermagui. He posted his catch on Facebook and there was an immediate discussion about what kind of shark it was. The shark was recovered on September 12 from a depth of 650 meters off the coast of New South Wales, Australia. The shark has very unusual features, with rough skin, a pointed snout, and giant bulging eyes that have pearly whites exposed. People watching photos with a caught shark tried to guess what kind of animal it was. Many people thought it was a cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis). Other guesses included a goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) or a species of lantern shark (Etmopteridae).
However, Trapman Bermagui disagreed with the online commenters. “Totally not a cookiecutter,” the fisherman told Newsweek. “It’s a rough skin shark, also known as a species of endeavor dogfish.”
But scientists disagreed on this.
“Looks to me like a deepwater kitefin shark (Dalatias licha), which are known in the waters off Australia,” Christopher Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, told Newsweek. Although, it is hard to tell for sure without being able to see the entire specimen, he added.
Scientists cannot unequivocally agree
Dean Grubbs, a marine biologist and shark expert at Florida State University, offered up a different conclusion. Grubbs suspected that the dead shark was a roughskin dogfish (Centroscymnus owstonii), a type of sleeper shark from the same family as Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus), according to Newsweek.
It is also possible that the shark could belong to a never-before-seen species, Lowe said. “We discover new species of deepwater shark all the time and many look very similar to each other.”
The Live Science portal contacted various experts and they could not clearly decide what kind of shark it was. Charlie Huveneers, a shark scientist at Flinders University in Australia, thinks it could be a gulper shark.
“It’s a gulper shark,” Brit Finucci, a fisheries scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand who specializes in deep-sea sharks, told Live Science in an email. But she is not 100% sure.
“In the past, gulper sharks were targeted by fisheries for their liver oil in New South Wales,” Finucci said. Most gulper sharks are “very sensitive to overexploitation from fishing” and as a result, “some species are now highly threatened and protected in Australia,” she added.
The depths of the ocean are a great mystery for scientists, there are a huge number of undescribed sea creatures. This is one of the many reasons why this environment needs to be protected.
Photo credit: Trapman Bermagui