Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, or MBARI, have just announced the successful filming of an incredibly rare species of fish, far beyond its known habitat. This exciting news has led to questions of whether or not a new subspecies may have actually been discovered.
The stunningly clear video was captured by accident, as researchers were actually looking at other marine life when the unexpected fish swam up to the camera, nudged it, and circled around for a second pass. You are going to be amazed by this video clip.
This is the first video footage ever of an incredibly rare blue-faced ratfish, otherwise known as the ghost shark. The surprising part is that the animal was filmed over six thousand kilometers from its traditionally accepted range off the coast of Australia.
“This is much easier said than done, because these fish are generally too large, fast, and agile to be caught by MBARI’s ROVs,” the institute’s Lonny Lundsten said.
Members of this order of fish are notoriously difficult to study. They are typically found on the seafloor at depths of over 600 feet.
Exceptions include the members of the genus Callorhinchus, the rabbit fishand the spotted ratfish, which locally or periodically can be found at relatively shallow depths. Consequently, these are also among the few species from the Chimaera order kept in public aquaria. They have elongated, soft bodies, with a bulky head and a single gill-opening. They grow up to 150 cm (4.9 ft) in length, although this includes the lengthy tail found in some species. In many species, the snout is modified into an elongated sensory organ.
Like other members of the class Chondrichthyes, chimaera skeletons are constructed of cartilage. Their skin is smooth and largely covered by placoid scales, and their color can range from black to brownish gray. For defense, most chimaeras have a venomous spine located in front of the dorsal fin.
Chimaeras resemble sharks in some ways: they employ claspers for internal fertilization of females and they lay eggs with leathery cases. They also use electroreception to locate their prey. However, unlike sharks, male chimaeras also have retractable sexual appendages on the forehead (a type of tentaculum) and in front of the pelvic fins. The females lay eggs in spindle-shaped, leathery egg cases.
They also differ from sharks in that their upper jaws are fused with their skulls and they have separate anal and urogenital openings. They lack sharks’ many sharp and replaceable teeth, having instead just three pairs of large permanent grinding tooth plates. They also have gill covers or opercula like bony fishes.