Belgian scientists have discovered three new species of deep sea sharks off the coast of New Zealand that can glow in the dark. This was announced on Wednesday by Radio New Zealand.
As the marine biologist Jerome Malefeu from the University of Leuven told the radio station, scientists were able to see and describe for the first time three new species of deep-sea luminescent sharks living off the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. “During the joint expedition, my colleagues and I from the New Zealand Institute of Aquatic and Atmospheric Research were able to catch these sharks, observe and document their ability to glow in the dark,” he said.
Scientists note that the ability of some marine animals to luminescence was known before, but this property is encountered for the first time in sharks. Therefore, further study of these animals, which will be carried out by marine biologists from New Zealand and Belgium, could “completely change the idea of life in the deep ocean.” “Bioluminescence was not previously considered as something unusual for marine life, but with the emergence of new data, it becomes clear that the ability to glow in the dark plays an important role in the life of the inhabitants of the largest ecosystem on the planet (World Ocean – approx. TASS),” experts say.
The new shark species are named kitefin shark, black-bellied lantern shark and southern lantern shark. The largest of them (the kitefin shark) can grow up to 1.8 m in length. All three species live in the so-called “twilight zone” of the ocean, at a depth of 200 m to 1,000 m, where they hunt small fish and crustaceans.
Researchers have not yet figured out why deep-sea sharks, which have almost no natural enemies, need the ability to luminescence. While it is assumed that predators use their light to camouflage and search for food on the bottom, however, marine biologists hope to find out the exact purpose of this ability in the course of further research.