The ghost shark was found at a depth of around 1,200 meters (about 3,900 feet) on the Chatham Rise, an area of ocean floor off the east coast of the South Island.
The “very rare” discovery was made during a recent survey, the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research announced on Tuesday.
A deep-sea animal, the ghost shark is scientifically known as the chimera, with other names including ratfish, ghostfish and rabbitfish, according to the Shark Trust. The ghost shark is closely related to sharks and rays.
They are cartilaginous fish – whose skeleton is mainly made of cartilage – and their embryos develop in egg capsules laid on the seabed and feed on egg yolk until they hatch.
SEE ALSO: | American students launch a boat in 2020; 6th grader in Norway finds it after 462-day, 8,300-mile journey
Brit Finucci, a fisheries scientist who was part of the team that made the discovery, said in the press release that the ghost shark was identifiable as newly hatched because its belly was still full of egg yolk.
“We don’t know much about ghost sharks,” Finucci told CNN on Thursday. “What we know is mostly from adult specimens, so it’s very rare and very rare to find juveniles of many of these species, which is why I’m quite excited.”
Finucci added that since most ghost sharks are found in deep water, they are “quite difficult to get to”, and said she hoped the new discovery would help fill in some “biological gaps”.
The exact species of ghost shark discovered by the team is not yet known, and Finucci said new species of ghost sharks are still being discovered and that measurements and genetic samples will now be taken for purposes. identification.
“We need to figure out what species we’re looking at,” Finucci said, adding that ghost sharks are the “oldest lineage” of cartilaginous fish. “We don’t know what we’re going to find, which is also very exciting.”
The age of the specimen means researchers will now be able to compare it with their knowledge of adult ghost sharks, taking into account the differences in habitat, diet and appearance that Finucci says can occur between juveniles and adults. .
“We hope this will give us more insight into biology and ecology,” Finucci added. “From what we know of the most studied species, juveniles can be very different from adults.”