If you’re afraid of what lurks beneath the ocean’s surface, then you’ probably won’t be excited to find out that a brand new species of shark has been discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. The five-and-a-half-inch shark has the ability to squirt glow in the dark fluid which would be great in an underwater rave.
Meet the tiny pocket shark Credit: Tulane researcher Michael Doosey
The shark was found nearly 10 years ago, but it’s only been recently been considered a new species. Named the American Pocket Shark, it has pouches near its front fins and was collected in 2010 when researchers were trying to work out what sperm whales eat. It isn’t what you think. The little lad is able to shoot little glowing clouds into the ocean from its pouches.
The shark has five features that haven’t been seen in the only other known specimen of its kind. The other was captured in the Eastern Pacific Ocean back in 1979 and is now on display at the Zooligical Museum in St Petersburg, Russian.
Mark Grace of the NMFS Mississippi Laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Henry Bart and Michael Doosey of the Tulane University Biodiversity Research have described their findings in an article in the Zootaxa journal.
Mr Grace said: “I’ve been in science about 40 years and I can usually make a pretty good guess about a marine animal’s identity. “I couldn’t with this one.”
Not one to give up, he asked the experts at Tulane University and the American Museum of Natural History in New York, as well as the Florida Museum of Natural History, located at the University of Florida for help.
Despite a 2015 paper identifying the shark of the second of its kind, it’s now known to be a new species
Bart said: “The fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf – especially its deeper waters – and how many additional new species from these waters await discovery.”
If you’re wondering why a shark would be able to squirt florescent fluid from its pouches, then researchers have you covered. They suggest that it’s used to help conceal it from prey or predators. A bit like a rainbow-infused pepper spray.