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Rare chimaera discovered off California

hydrolagus trolli T1102 500The pointy-nosed blue chimaera. Photo Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Scientists have identified footage of a deep sea shark-like creature videoed by luck at 1,600m off California as a pointy-nosed blue chimaera - a species previously only known to live in the waters around Australia and New Zealand.

This is the first time the Hydrolagus trolli has been seen in the northern hemisphere.

Chimaeras are unusual fish - like sharks, their bodies are not stiffened by bones, but by plates and bone-like bits of cartilage. There are 38 known species and they mostly live in the deep ocean. This is thought to be the first time the pointy-nosed blue chimaera has been captured alive on film. It took scientists a number of years to establish this was the same species of chimaera that has identified around Australia - their report has just been published in Marine Biodiversity Records.

Hydrolagus close 450Photo Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

The fish was filmed by an ROV from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute near the summit of Davidson Seamount, off the coast of Central California at a depth of about 1,640m. 

The common name - ghost shark - reflects their peculiar physical appearance. The fish has a retractable penis on its head and the unusual skin markings are thought to be sensory organs. In Greek mythology  chimaera have a goat’s head, a serpent’s tail, and a lion’s head.

 

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