Rare 'ghost shark' spotted deep off California coast

Researchers have discovered a rare species of fish swimming deep underwater off the coast of California -- the first time it’s been spotted in the northern hemisphere.

A remote-control underwater vehicle with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute filmed the chimaera -- a strange looking fish also known as the ghost shark, ratfish and rabbitfish in 2009 -- however its identity was only recently confirmed by scientists.

“Normally, people probably wouldn’t have been looking around in this area, so it’s a little bit of dumb luck,” Dave Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories told National Geographic. “The guys doing the video were actually geologists.”

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Multiple experts analyzed the video and determined it was a hydrolagus trolli, a pointy-nosed blue chimaera. The cartilaginous fishes are relatives of sharks and rays. Its evolution split, and it has been confined to the deep sea for some 300 million years. Chimaeras have tooth plates like mollusks and retractable sexual appendages on their foreheads.

It’s not the first discovery of the species, but it is considered the first video of it in its habitat. The pointy-nosed blue chimaera was first named in 2002 and found in deep water near Australia and New Zealand. It had not been identified in the northern hemisphere until now.

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