A 'ghost shark' has just been filmed in the deep sea for the first time

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Chris Sayer

A pretty nightmarish species of shark has been filmed alive in its natural habitat for the first time.

Also known as chimaeras, ratfish and water bunnies, ghost sharks are not a new discovery to scientists, but this footage captured by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California has got shark boffins in an excited tizz as it’s the only known film of a pointy-nosed blue chimera swimming around alive, rather than floating about dead. 

Researchers first observed this type of ghost shark back in 2009. This footage, filmed at depths of up to 6,700ft  around the Hawaiian Islands and California, is the first time the prehistoric swimmer’s been seen in the Northern Hemisphere.

“The guys doing the video were actually geologists,” Dave Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Centre who analysed the footage, told Nat Geo. “Normally, people probably wouldn’t have been looking around in this area, so it’s a little bit of dumb luck.”

Scientists have learned a lot about the breed of wing-finned, prehistoric shark from the video. Firstly, even though it appears to be pretty dead-eyed due in part to its eyeballs being totally useless in the murky deep-sea depths, it seems to be a sucker for the bright lights attached to the marine ROV.

“It’s almost a little comical,” says Ebert. “It would come up and bounce its nose off the lens and swim around and come back.”

Secondly, unlike most well-known sharks and Jaws, chimaeras don’t have rows and rows of jagged tear-your-flesh-to-ribbons teeth, but appear to have mineralized tooth plates to simply mulch up the mollusks, worms and other bottom-dwelling weirdos it feeds on.

But the real kicker, the one we’re all going to remember about this spooky little freak, is that atop its head, front and centre on its forehead, sits a retractable sex organ. Yep, all together now: it’s an actual dickhead. Although we’ve spent far too long already trying to see it in the vid, you can legitimately call this shark “f*ckface”, and he’d be powerless to retort.

No wonder he's avoided cameras for so long. Poor little dude. 


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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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