5th of August 2019
ALERT! A new species of shark has been discovered! This is the best news we’ve heard in a long time. And when you hear more about the species, you’ll know why we are so excited. The American pocket shark is a mere 5.5 inches long, competing for smallest shark in the world against the Dwarf Lantern Shark who is said to fit in the size of your hand. The reason this shark is so fabulous is because it has light-generating organs called photophores which emit light in bioluminescent organisms. This means it can glow in the dark. It secretes a luminescent substance under its pectoral fin glands to hunt prey. How COOL!
There have been a lot of cartoons about the pocket shark fitting into the size of a pocket, but the name actually comes from their physical feature of a pocket-like orifice near their pectoral fins. Some scientists say that the shark looks like a mini sperm whale due to its bulbous snout.
The Ocean Is Still Full Of Mysteries
The shark was first found in 2010 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and was declared to be a pocket shark in 2015. Only now has it been identified as a new species. Its scientific name is Mollisquama mississippiensis. The tiny American pocket shark was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico and is the second pocket shark to have ever been reported. The first one was in the Pacific Ocean 40 years ago. Both are extremely rare species. Henry Bart, director of the Tulane University Biodiversity Research Institute in Louisiana said:
“The fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf – especially its deeper waters – and how many additional new species from these waters await discovery.”
We are so excited at the thought of all the undiscovered species that exist. We just haven’t found them yet! Would you like to know more about our research on the Gili Islands? You can read all about it on our blog page.