Lonely Planet Writer

Rare and mysterious 'ghost shark' has been caught on camera for the first time

Incredibly rare “ghost sharks” have been caught on film for the first time. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (Mbari) shot the first ever footage of the pointy-nosed blue ratfish (known as Hydrolagus trolli) in oceans off Hawaii and California.

The fish was named in honor of Alaskan artist Ray Troll because of his fascination and appreciation for this strange group of fishes.
The fish was named in honour of Alaskan artist Ray Troll because of his fascination and appreciation for this strange group of fishes.

According to National Geographic, ghost sharks have been roaming the deep seas since long before the dinosaurs. The footage was actually captured in 2009 but it took the team several years to confirm that the creature is a pointy-nosed blue chimaera, aka the spooky-looking ghost shark.

 

So why is it different from other sharks?  While it is called a ghost shark, the fish is actually an elasmobranch – which is related to sharks but not actually classified as one. According to Lonny Lundsten, a senior research technician at Mbari, chimaeras are unusual fishes.

Animated GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Lundsten says: “Like sharks, their bodies are not stiffened by bones, but by plates and bone-like bits of cartilage.”  The ratfish gets its name from the fact that its jaw is fused to its skull, giving its face a rat-like appearance.  But its most remarkable feature is its retractable penis on the forehead, although it is not known exactly how they are used.

//