An odd, ancient-looking shark with blue eyes was unexpectedly found within the tropical waters of the Caribbean when it was hooked by Belizean fishers and a biologist on April 22.
Researchers lately decided that the bizarre fish could have been a Greenland shark or a Greenland shark hybrid within the sleeper shark household — the primary of its form seen in western Caribbean waters.
The unusual shark was caught at Glover’s Reef off Belize, and the boat’s crew immediately knew they’d captured one thing out of the bizarre. “I knew it was one thing uncommon and so did the fishers, who hadn’t ever seen something fairly prefer it in all their mixed years of fishing,” Devanshi Kasana, a doctoral candidate at Florida Worldwide College who was a part of the crew and led the brand new research, mentioned in a statement.
With an estimated size of as much as 12 toes (3.5 meters), the mysterious shark was launched earlier than it could possibly be formally recognized. Sleeper sharks are usually discovered within the ocean’s deepest, coldest waters, with Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) usually dwelling within the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. The brand new discovery helps a speculation that these sharks could also be extra widespread than beforehand thought.
The Caribbean shark discovery befell 1000’s of miles from the place Greenland sharks are usually discovered. Kasana was working with Belizean fishers to tag tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) as a part of her doctoral analysis, in collaboration with the Belize Fisheries Division and native fishing communities, after they stumbled upon the bizarre shark.
An approaching storm pressured the crew to launch the shark nearly instantly for its personal security, so that they weren’t in a position to take a genetic pattern. For the brand new research, Kasana and her colleagues studied footage and pictures of the shark that had been taken throughout its seize and located that it shared key traits with Greenland sharks and different sleeper sharks, together with a rounded snout, low and rounded pectoral fins and a watch parasite. The shark was additionally sluggish and slow-moving like sleeper sharks usually are after they’re captured, in keeping with the research.
The researchers concluded it was almost definitely a Greenland shark, or a hybrid between a Greenland shark and a Pacific sleeper shark (Somniosus pacificus), the same species within the sleeper shark household.
Whereas the tropics may look like an odd place for sleeper sharks, the waters surrounding Glover’s Reef are deep, and the slopes alongside its edges drop from 1,600 toes to 9,500 toes (500 m to 2,900 m) beneath the floor, in keeping with the assertion. Sleeper sharks could also be extra widespread in these deep, tropical waters than beforehand recorded, the researchers urged.
Greenland sharks are the longest-living vertebrates on Earth. A 2016 research printed within the journal Science estimated that the sharks could have a most lifespan of not less than 272 years. They scavenge and hunt reside prey, and have been discovered with every little thing from fish to polar bear (Ursus maritimus) stays of their stomachs.
The research was printed on July 15 within the journal Marine Biology (opens in new tab).
Initially printed on Dwell Science.