A weird new shark that glows in the dark, discovered and its official name is ‘Ninja Lanternshark.’
The ‘Ninja Lanternshark’ shark with jet-black skin, bulbous eyes, and special cells that allow it to glow in the dark, lives in the central Pacific Ocean’s ‘twilight zone,’ from around 800 to 1,400 meters deep.
Image credit Vicky Vásquez
This ‘beauty’ which can grow to about half a meter in length, officially scientific named Etmopterus benchleyi, after Peter Benchley, author of Jaws.
Researcher Vicky Vásquez, from Pacific Shark Research Center, explained to kids that this shark uses photophores in its skin to produce a faint glow in the deep, dark ocean.
This helps them ‘sneak up on small fish and shrimp’ and avoiding becoming lunch for predators.
The new species has been collected in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Nicaragua south to Panama, with most specimens collected off Costa Rica. The depth range of collections is from 836–1443 m along the continental slope.
The species is named in honor of Peter Benchley, author of Jaws and subsequently an avid shark conservationist. His legacy, the Benchley Awards, recognizes outstanding achievements in ocean conservation. In line with Mr. Benchley’s outreach efforts, the privilege of deciding a common name for this species was bestowed upon four young shark enthusiasts, ages 8 to 14, and relatives of the first author (VEV). The suggested common name, the Ninja Lanternshark, refers to the uniform black coloration and reduced photophore complement used as concealment in this species, somewhat reminiscent of the typical outfit and stealthy behavior of a Japanese ninja.