Sharks are the sorts of animals that we think we know a lot about. Big! Scary! Lots of teeth!
But in reality, we know so little. The great whites and tigers and hammerheads are only the fin tip of the shark-berg. There are hundreds of other species, many of which play against the idea of the shark as a large, swift predator. Then there are the shark relatives—curious cartilaginous fish that are even more unknown.
One of those is the ghost shark.
Though it's not invisible, it is seriously mysterious. Seeing one is very rare, even for experienced deep sea researchers. And seeing a baby? Well, that's amazing!
And that is exactly what has happened near New Zealand. Would you like to see it? Of course you would!
Ghost sharks are technically not sharks. They are chimaeras. These cartilaginous fish are relatives of sharks and rays. They all have skeletons made of cartilage—the stuff in your nose—not bone. But that's not what makes these fish so rare.
Ghost sharks live in very deep water—often over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) below the surface. Some species can get large—around 2 m (6 ft), which is about as long as an adult human is tall. All species are known for their reflective, hazy eyes that appear to glow. This is how they got the name ghost shark!
Good luck ghost
Biologists say that chimaeras were once a much more dominant fish species in the ocean. They date back 400 million years! But today, they are far less common and essentially hidden from humans. Especially the babies!
This amazing find was discovered at a place called Chatham's Rise near New Zealand's South Island, around 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) down. Ghost shark eggs are laid on the sea floor in what is called a case or capsule. Inside, the baby feeds off yolk until it is ready to hatch. This young ghost shark is so recently hatched, it still had a belly full of egg yolk!
Scientists hope that this animal can teach them much more about one of the ocean's most rarely seen fish. Sometimes, it's good luck to see a ghost!
Listen to marine biologist Dr. Brit Finucci talk about the find below.