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438 ghost shark stock photos, 3d objects, vectors, and illustrations are available royalty-free. see ghost shark stock video clips, very rare ghost shark egg.
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When is a shark not a shark? When it’s a ghost shark! These creatures are actually chimaeras—cartilaginous fishes that are related to sharks but distinguished by several differences, including having only one gill on either side of the body. Inhabitants of deep water, chimaeras can grow more than six feet long depending on the species. Their eyes are backed with a reflective tissue layer that makes them seem to glow in the dark, contributing to an eerie—even ghostlike—appearance. This video gives you a rare glimpse of a ghost shark swimming around on a seamount.
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Will Ghost Sharks Vanish Before Scientists Can Study Them?
Much remains to be learned about the cartilaginous, little understood fishes that inhabit the deep-sea.
By Annie Roth
Take one look at a ghost shark and you may say, “What’s up with that weird-looking fish?”
Over the past few decades, scientists learned that these cartilaginous fishes, also known as ratfish or Chimaeras, have been around for hundreds of millions of years, and that they have venomous spines in front of their dorsal fins and “fly” through the water by flapping their pectoral fins. They even learned that most male ghost sharks have a retractable sex organ on their foreheads that resembles a medieval mace.
However, much remains to be learned about these strange creatures. Basic biological information, like how long they live and how often they reproduce, is lacking for most of the 52 known species. The absence of this key information makes it difficult for scientists to manage and monitor ghost shark populations, even as evidence mounts that some species may be at risk of extinction.
Scientists from the Shark Specialist Group, a division of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, recently assessed the extinction risk of all confirmed ghost shark species and determined that 16 percent are “threatened” or “near threatened.” The assessment, which was published this month in the journal Fish and Fisheries, also found that 15 percent of ghost shark species are so understudied that their extinction risk cannot be determined. Now experts are concerned that certain ghost shark species might go extinct before scientists have a chance to study them.
Ghost sharks can be found in all of the world’s oceans, except the Arctic and the Antarctic. Most inhabit the deep-sea, although a handful of species inhabit shallow coastal waters. Despite their name, ghost sharks are not true sharks, though they are closely related. Unlike their shark cousins, ghost sharks have long, thin tails and large, continuously growing tooth plates that give them a rat-like appearance. Some have long skinny snouts while others sport plow-shaped ones that they use to probe seafloor sediment in search of food.
“They’ve got a face only a mother or a researcher could love,” said David Ebert, director of the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California and co-author of the assessment.
Nearly half of the species known to science were discovered only during the past two decades. “We’re just now starting to figure out that there are a lot more of these things around than we realized previously,” said Dr. Ebert, whose lab has been credited with the discovery of 11 of the 52 known ghost shark species.
Dr. Ebert is one of only a handful of scientists currently studying ghost sharks. Securing funding to study them has long been a challenge for scientists.
“Chimaeras don’t have much value commercially, so there’s not a lot of interest in getting more information about them,” said Brit Finucci, fisheries scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand and lead author of the assessment. “They’re also quite cryptic, so they’re hard to find and hard to study.” Several species of ghost shark, including the Bahamas ghost shark , are known from only one specimen.
Ghost sharks are primarily caught as bycatch. While their meat is edible, the majority of their commercial value comes from their livers, which contain an oil known as squalene that’s used in a wide variety of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products .
Although they are harvested and sold all over the world, 90 percent of ghost shark species are unmanaged, according to the IUCN assessment. This means that those who catch these species are not subject to limits and are not obligated to share data about their catch.
If fishing fleets continue venturing further into the deep-sea, experts fear that some species of ghost shark could disappear before scientists even notice that they are in trouble.
“How can we start to wrap our head around keeping them from going extinct if we don’t know anything about them?” said Dominique Didier, an ichthyologist at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.
In order to prevent ghost shark extinctions from occurring unnoticed, the authors argue, more scientists need to study ghost sharks, and marine authorities need to exercise more oversight and management of ghost shark fisheries around the world.
“We shouldn’t be waiting,” Dr. Finucci said. “Even though these animals are assessed with a lesser risk of extinction, we shouldn’t wait until they are actually a threatened species before we start studying them.”
Explore the Animal Kingdom
A selection of quirky, intriguing and surprising discoveries about animal life..
Anophthalmus hitleri is a small, amber-colored beetle native to a few damp caves in Slovenia. It has one glaring problem: its name .
Winston, an older gorilla, is getting enviable medical treatment. Now his keepers must confront an issue that vexes doctors: How much intervention is too much ?
A new study of chimpanzees and bonobos, who can still remember faces after a quarter century , suggests that long-term memories may have been vital to our own evolution.
Scientists found that dolphins have an ability to sense electric fields , which may help them hunt and navigate the seas.
Penguins are champion power nappers. Over the course of a single day, they fall asleep thousands of times, each bout a few seconds long, a study has found .
After decades of observations, scientists have discovered that some chimpanzees go through menopause , too. And bonobos are challenging the notion that humans are the only primates capable of group-to-group alliances.
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Frilled shark, 13 ghost shark stock photos & high-res pictures, browse 13 authentic ghost shark stock photos, high-res images, and pictures, or explore additional bioluminescence or chimaera stock images to find the right photo at the right size and resolution for your project..
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Frilled shark, 13 ghost shark stock photos & high-res pictures, browse 13 authentic ghost shark stock photos, high-res images, and pictures, or explore additional bioluminescence or chimaera stock images to find the right photo at the right size and resolution for your project..
Rare Footage of the Haunting Ghost Shark
by Jhaneel Lockhart
Meet the chimaeras, or “ghost sharks” as they’re sometimes called because of their spooky appearance. These unique and unusual creatures are rarely caught on film — but we’ve gotten a hold of some footage which you find at the bottom of the article!
Despite the name, they aren’t actually sharks. They are cousins and have some similar characteristics, but their evolutionary lineage branched off from sharks almost 400 million years ago.
In fact, chimaeras are one of the oldest species of fish alive today. They even existed before dinosaurs!
Like sharks, chimaeras are cartilaginous, which means their skeletons are made mostly of cartilage instead of bone. They also have smooth, scaleless skin.
Chimaeras go by different names, including ghost sharks, spookfish, rabbitfish, ratfish, and elephant fish, depending on how they look.
Scientists who named this species of fish may have been inspired by the chimera, which in Greek mythology was a fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, body of a goat and tail of a snake. The resemblance to so many animals, as well as the lateral lines running across the ghost shark’s head and body certainly gives it a patched-together appearance.
They have three pairs of sharp, grinding teeth, which they use to crush through crustacean shells (and contributes to their rodent-inspired names.)
The females lay their eggs in long, leathery cases. The capsules, which can take 8-12 months to hatch, have hard, frilly-looking edges and change color from yellow to brownish-black over time.
Some ghost sharks have sharp venomous spines in front of their dorsal fins, which they use to defend themselves from predators.
Chimaeras hunt prey using their large snouts which can detect movement and weak electrical fields.
Their large, eerie eyes sometimes appear to glow in the dark. This is because of a membrane in the eye that absorbs and reflects light, helping the fish see under water.
Ghost sharks typically confined to ocean waters up to 8,500 feet deep and are mostly inaccessible to researchers.
They are caught commercially when they migrate to shallower waters in the spring and summer. In New Zealand, their flesh is sold in markets as whitefish fillets and sometimes used to make fish and chips!
See the first footage that was ever taken of the ghost shark in the video below:
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See a 'Very Rare' and Bizarre-Looking Baby Ghost Shark
The deep-water shark was only days old when discovered.
This newly hatched ghost shark was a rare and unusual sight.
Ghost sharks made news in 2016 when one of the enigmatic sea creatures was caught on camera for the first time. Recently, a baby ghost shark was accidentally caught during a trawl survey of hoki (a type of white fish) off the coast of New Zealand. It's giving researchers a rare look at a youngster of the species.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand announced the discovery on Tuesday, calling it a "very rare find." The ghost shark is also known as a chimaera. It's not a true shark, but it's related to sharks and rays. The fish start off as embryos in egg capsules on the ocean floor.
The ghost shark was a neonate, a newly hatched baby. "You can tell this ghost shark recently hatched because it has a full belly of egg yolk. It's quite astonishing. Most deep-water ghost sharks are known adult specimens; neonates are infrequently reported so we know very little about them," said NIWA fisheries scientist Brit Finucci.
It may not be the most charismatic animal in the ocean, but it's plenty fascinating. "Their eyes are backed with a reflective tissue layer that makes them seem to glow in the dark, contributing to an eerie -- even ghostlike -- appearance," the Smithsonian said in an explainer.
It will take some analysis to determine the exact species of ghost shark, but you can see the family resemblance to the one caught on video in 2016. Said Finucci, "Finding this ghost shark will help us better understand the biology and ecology of this mysterious group of deep-water fish."
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Ghost sharks – unraveling the mysteries of these strange and elusive sea monsters
A team of intrepid researchers from the University of Florida and the Seattle Aquarium are poised to embark on a unique expedition this summer. Plunging a hundred meters beneath the surface of the Pacific Northwest’s waters, they aim to unravel the enigmas surrounding a denizen of the deep – the elusive ghost shark, also known as chimaeras.
The scientists, utilizing remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), will be hunting for the nesting grounds of a specific variety of ghost shark known as the Pacific spotted ratfish, or Hydrolagus colliei. Often found haunting the ocean floor, these spectral creatures have a mystique that has intrigued scientists for years.
Gareth Fraser, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Florida , is leading this daring expedition.
“We know very little about these elusive relatives of sharks and even less about their spawning habits and embryonic development,” Fraser said. He added that the goal of this mission is to use ROVs to discover where these ghostly sharks lay their eggs.
Ghost sharks, or chimaeras as they are formally called, have been separated from their shark and ray relatives by a chasm of nearly 400 million years of evolution.
What do ghost sharks look like?
This mysterious group of fish , often relegated to the ocean’s murky depths, remain one of the most understudied and enigmatic creatures. However, during the summer months, these chimaeras often frequent the more shallow waters of the Salish Sea along Washington’s coast to breed and feed.
Understanding the developmental processes of the ghost sharks could help unravel the secrets of their unique biological characteristics, or morphologies. Ghost sharks are known for their large, round, rabbit-like eyes that help them navigate in the dark. They also possess ever-growing tooth plates, much like a rodent, earning them the nickname ratfish.
Interestingly, while shark skin is covered in teeth, ghost sharks have smooth skin. Male chimaeras boast a peculiar bulb on their forehead. This is called a tenaculum, which sprouts spiky teeth that resemble those of a shark.
Fraser elucidated, “We think they use this head clasper like a second ‘jaw’ on their head to bite down and attach to the female during copulation. Ghost sharks are a very strange group of shark relatives whose biology makes them a bit other-worldly. When we get a chance to find these obscure fish where they feed and breed, we have to go for it.”
Studying these creatures is no easy task
Despite recent success in locating adult chimaeras through deep-water trawling projects, the study of mature fish has offered limited insights into their developmental processes. The upcoming exploration for ghost shark nesting areas this summer is groundbreaking – a first-of-its-kind for this species.
“Last year, we found different stages of the fish, from newly hatched babies to fully mature adults. This year, we’re going back to find their nursery grounds,” said Fraser.
The expedition was funded through a National Science Foundation grant and Fraser’s UF start-up grant. The scientists also aim to unearth clues about the origins of teeth. This knowledge could potentially unlock valuable insights for regenerative dental research in humans.
Setting out from Seattle on June 11, the team commenced their four-day expedition from a pier. The researchers piloted the ROV, essentially an underwater drone, about 10 meters deep. From there, they scoured the ocean floor for ghost shark nesting sites.
The drone, laden with cameras offering 360-degree views, will send back images to construct a virtual reality depiction of the ocean’s depths. This will offer scientists an immersive view of the ghost shark’s environment.
Fraser said, “This will take us to the waters off Washington state, so that we can swim with these ghost sharks virtually and get an up-close, panoramic view of their environment.”
For Karly Cohen, a UF biology postdoctoral fellow in the Fraser Lab, who originally identified the potential ghost shark nursing sites, this project is a golden opportunity to bolster conservation efforts.
Cohen remarked, “It’s important to learn about these understudied deep-water fish and their reproductive strategies. Ultimately, we want to protect this really charismatic species.”
More about chimaeras
Chimaeras, also known as ghost sharks, ratfish, or rabbit fish, are a unique group of fish belonging to the subclass Holocephali. They share the class Chondrichthyes with sharks and rays. This article offers a detailed examination of their unique characteristics, habitat, reproduction, and scientific significance.
The name “chimaera” originates from Greek mythology, referring to a creature composed of parts from various animals. The diverse physical attributes of chimaeras reflect this mythical association. They exhibit traits akin to several distinct animals.
For instance, their large, rabbit-like eyes, rodent-esque incisor teeth, and smooth, scaleless skin distinguish them from other marine species.
Chimaeras have several characteristics distinguishing them from their shark and ray relatives. Among these, they possess a permanent notochord, a feature present in the earliest vertebrates. Male chimaeras also display a distinctive adaptation for reproduction: retractable sexual organs on their foreheads.
Habitat and diet
Chimaeras frequent temperate ocean floors, descending to depths of up to 2,600 meters. Few species venture into shallower depths below 200 meters.
The expansive, flat heads of most species facilitate the scanning of the seafloor for food. Their diet mainly consists of small benthic invertebrates.
Chimaeras are characterized by an elongated body shape, with a bulky head and a slender, whip-like tail. Some species bear a venomous spine preceding the dorsal fin.
Their large pectoral fins resemble wings. Some species employ these in a bird-like manner for swimming, appearing to “fly” through the water.
Chimaeras are oviparous, or egg-laying creatures. Some chimaeras produce eggs encased in a leathery shell, often with extended filamentous tendrils.
The males display unique mating behavior. They utilize a pair of claspers (modified pelvic fins) for the transfer of sperm to the female during copulation.
Evolution and relation to sharks and rays
While grouped with sharks and rays under the class Chondrichthyes, chimaeras diverged from these relatives approximately 400 million years ago.
Similar to sharks and rays, chimaeras have skeletons composed of cartilage instead of bone.
Chimaeras remain relatively understudied due to their deep-sea habitats, despite their unique traits and evolutionary history. As a subject of scientific interest, they offer fascinating insights into marine life’s diversity and development.
Their specialized characteristics, from their mating behavior to their cartilaginous skeletal structure, provide valuable opportunities for further exploration and research.
As of 2021, conservation efforts primarily focus on expanding our understanding of these elusive creatures. The deep-water habitats of chimaeras render them relatively inaccessible.
This fact complicates scientific efforts to study their life cycles, population dynamics, and vulnerability to human activities such as deep-sea fishing. Conservation strategies will benefit from comprehensive research, enhancing our ability to protect these intriguing species.
In summary, chimaeras, with their enigmatic lifestyle and unique biological attributes, represent an exciting frontier for marine biology and evolutionary study. Although we have much to learn about these ghostly denizens of the deep, their existing data opens up a window into the vast diversity of life present within the world’s oceans.
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Deep-Sea Ghost Shark Filmed For The First Time — And Yes, These Pictures are Real!
Most people have heard about Great White Sharks and Mako Sharks among the other top deep sea predators, but recently a group of American scientists discovered what appears to be the mysterious point-nosed ghost shark for the first time.
The odd-looking fish sports a retractable sex organ on its head, National Geographic reported, and was spotted some 2,000 meters (6,700 feet) under the surface of the ocean.
The sighting happened off the coast of Hawaii and Florida while the researchers were on a task from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, also known as MBARI.
The pictures are stunning and video was also taken.
If you’ve never seen a shark like this before, buckle up because things are about to get weird.
The Mysterious Ghost Shark is Spotted for the First Time
As pictures of the hauntingly beautiful animal show, this is not your grandfather’s favorite shark.
The ghost shark looks alien to this planet, but it is in fact real as the pictures below demonstrate.
It is technically known as a chimaera, although it looks exactly like the most unexpected shark like creature you have ever seen.
The fish had previously only been found in the Southern Hemisphere.
It appears to have stitches on its face that are often referred to as “channels,” giving it a “rag doll” type of appearance, looking like something out of the Nightmare Before Christmas movie.
Researchers were floored by the discovery since it didn’t resemble any of the earlier known species in the area.
They reached out to chimaera expert Dr. David A. Ebert, program director at the Pacific Shark Research Center, for his thoughts on the video.
After analyzing it, it was determined by Ebert that the creature is a point-nosed blue chimaera or Hydrolagus trolli, which is typically found near Australia and New Zealand.
This is the first time it was filmed in its natural habitat, as it took between 2009 and 2016 to confirm its identity.
This sighting was especially noteworthy because experts typically need to track down the sharks somewhere near the bottom of the ocean, as is usually the case with so-called “lost shark” species.
This time around, the shark found them.
Some of the other “lost shark” species include the spookfish, ratfish, rabbitfish and other similar species, but many of them remain an enigma to scientists because of how elusive they are and how little they have been studied.
While you won’t be likely to find these sharks in a zoo or aquarium any time soon, the good news is that they are out there and they are incredible.
Sometimes, a little bit of wonder like this is exactly what we need to remember how incredible this planet truly is, and why it is worthy of our protection and support.
Share this with any shark lovers you know!
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Images: Weird Deep-Sea Sharks
During a two-month commercial fishing expedition in early 2012, California graduate student Paul Clerkin studied the many weird sharks a massive trawler plucked from the deep sea. The ship was in the Indian Ocean, bringing up fish from a depth of about 6,500 feet (2,000 meters).The large gulper shark pictured above was one of Clerkin's favorites, he said.
It's likely this ghost shark is a new species. The sharks have large pectoral fins and live very deep in the ocean.
Armed and dangerous?
Another ghost shark. Notice the curved spine emerging from its back, near the fish's head.
The large trawler ship that was Clerkin's home for two months. The vessel hit some rough waters in the Indian Ocean.
Small cat sharks, potentially a new species.
The trawler picked up more than 30 false catsharks, pictured above. These large, pointy-faced sharks are thought to be rare, but Clerkin said he's not so sure that's accurate. It's likely humans haven't often fished the deep waters where these sharks live.
What's up, doc?
A ghost shark. In the place of teeth, the fish have wide bony plates, lending them a goofy mouth shape that resembles that of a bucktoothed rabbit.
A long, narrow shark with a strange mouth.
A small, deep-sea shark, brought up from seamounts in the Indian Ocean.
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Ghost Shark Caught on Camera for the First Time
Ghost sharks, which sport retractable sex organs on their heads, have even more bizarre bodies than we thought.
A new study of the deep-sea dwellers reveals that some females have a built-in sperm storage bank that allows them to keep viable sperm for possibly years at a time.
Also known as chimaera or ratfish, ghost sharks have long fins and vacant eyes that make even great whites seem friendly. Though ghost sharks are distantly related to sharks and rays, little is known about the rarely seen fish.
“They literally look like a fish put together by a committee,” says chimaera expert David A. Ebert , director of the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California.
For the study, scientists focused on two ghost shark species often caught off New Zealand: the brown chimaera and black ghost shark. The team examined hundreds of deceased individuals, including museum specimens and animals recently hauled up in bottom trawls.
Study leader Brit Finucci , a Ph.D. student at Victoria University of Wellington, and colleagues studied fish at various stages of sexual maturity, weighing and measuring various parts of their anatomy.
Like many shark species, female ghost sharks have two sets of working uteri, two sets of ovaries, and a pair of egg passages. The males' forehead sex organ has hooks that they may use to clasp onto the fins of the females during mating, and two other clasper organs around their pelvis for the actual copulation. (See" Weird New Ghost Shark Found; Male Has Sex Organ on Head .")
Mating "does not seem to be a very pleasant experience for the females,” Finucci notes.
Food and Sex
The special sperm storage area in brown chimaera females' reproductive tract is the same structure Finucci recently discovered in two other ghost shark species , which are sometimes called spookfish. The chimaeras keep the sperm, densely packed, within several tiny tubes of their oviducal gland.
“There’s a good chance that these animals breed in one place at one time then lay their eggs at a different time,” says Finucci, whose study was published recently in the Journal of Fish Biology .
That ability is crucial in the deep ocean , she says, where food and mates can be hard to come by. For this reason, Finucci believes sperm storage is likely practiced widely among ghost sharks.
It's unknown how long ghost shark females hold sperm, but captive bamboo sharks can do it for over three years—suggesting that ghost sharks can as well, she adds.
The team made another discovery: An organ on the roof of the mouth of both sexes that may help them find food in the dark, muddy depths.
Scientists first identified this palatal organ in the monster ghost shark in 2015 . “It’s a fleshy organ, rich in nerve endings, taste buds, and multicellular glands,” Finucci says.
Though much is unknown about ghost shark diets, Finucci says they'll eat pretty much anything they come across. “There are some videos out there where you see chimaeras essentially face-planting in the sand, which may be how they forage."
Mysterious Sea Creatures
The research also revealed that brown chimaera and black ghost sharks are relatively rare compared with other ghost sharks in New Zealand waters; large, reproducing females are even rarer.
Scientists are unsure whether this is due to low numbers, or if they just don’t know where to look. ( See more amazing shark pictures .)
After all, chimaera are still mysteries to science: Nearly 40 percent of chimaera species have been revealed only in the past 15 years or so, says Ebert.
Though more is emerging bit by bit— the first-ever video of the pointy-nosed blue chimaera was released in 2016, for instance —scant evidence exists of the creatures in the wild.
“They are literally a whole group of fishes that we know almost nothing about,” says Ebert, who wasn't involved in the new research.
“Brit’s study is one of the few that tried to look at the life history.”
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Panama Ghost Catshark
The Panama ghost catshark is a rarely seen species of catshark.
Very little is known about this shark – with adult males assumed to be 1.5 ft long.
Where do they live
As the name suggests, this shark lives in Panama between 9°N and 2°N.
It is believed that the Panama ghost catshark is oviparous.
Interactions with humans
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