A new study has found that three species of shark have an unusual ability: They are bioluminescent. They are actually able to “shine” in the dark depths of the sea, possibly to merge and protect themselves from the attacks of other predators.
Three species of glow-in-the-dark sharks have been spotted off the coast of New Zealand. unique discovery, Posted in Frontiers in marine sciencesIt is the work of scientists from the Marine Biology LaboratoryCatholic University of Louvain in Belgium and those in National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research Niwa from Wellington, New Zealand.
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It is the first time that bioluminescence (a phenomenon common among marine organisms) has been documented and analyzed in three species of shark: the blond shark (Dalatias licha), the black woolly or lucifer shark (Etmopterus lucifer) and the southern lantern shark (Etmopterus granulosus). The first, the blond shark (which can reach up to 180 cm in length), is now the largest known lightning vertebrate, and has been referred to by researchers as the “giant diminutive shark.”
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According to the research authors, the findings will have important implications for our understanding of life in the deep sea. All sharks live in what is known as the mid-sea or “twilight” zone of the ocean, at a depth of 200-1000 meters, after which sunlight does not penetrate. Researchers speculate that the bright underside of these three species could help camouflage them, hiding them from predators that might come from below. It is also possible that they use the natural glow to illuminate the ocean floor as they search for food.