A rare find in Louisiana.
It’s a rare find in the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists have reportedly discovered a rare and tiny pocket shark just 190 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The tiny shark is just the second of its kind ever discovered, according to Tulane University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to scientists, the fish was caught five years ago during a Gulf of Mexico research expedition, frozen, and then sent to Tulane in 2013. The team ultimately identified the rare shark, and eventually compile a study that was published earlier this month in Zootaxa.
The 5 1/2 inch male juvenile is unique, due to the twin pockets next to its front fans. According to scientists, the pockets emit clouds of glowing fluid that allow the shark to attract prey and deter predators. The fluid also aides the sharks during mating season.
The rare fine is allowing scientists to better understand these rare and tiny sharks and how they operate within the Gulf of Mexico. The first recorded specimen of the shark was in 1979, and some scientists believed it to be extinct. However, the latest discovery will likely provide scientists with some understanding of exactly how the glands operate within the fish, and how the species interacts with other creatures in the region.
“We don’t yet know how these glands work and what advantages it might give to a species like this,” Doosey said. “It’s a creature that lives in the middle of the dark, deep, cold ocean and no other shark species have anything like it.”
The story of how the shark was captured is in itself a rare and unique one. In 2010, a NOAA expedition aimed at examining sperm whale feeding allowed researchers to collect various creatures, including the pocket shark. The shark is thought to come from a depth of around 2,000 feet, in an area where the Gulf extends upwards of 10,000 feet in depth. After capture, the shark spent more than three years in a freezer in Louisiana until scientists discovered that while inventorying the cats. After realizing the pocket shark was a rare and unique species, scientists moved it for further examination.