New Species: Glowing ‘Ninja Lanternshark’ Lights up the Deep Sea

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterI was taught to not bury the lead, so here goes. This is a ninja lanternshark. That’s right – NINJA + SHARK. This new species of lanternshark is black, stealthy, lives in the deep sea, and oh yeah… it glows.

Adult female Etmopterus benchleyi. Credit: Ocean Science Foundation
Adult female Etmopterus benchleyi. Credit: Ocean Science Foundation

Researchers named the new species Etmopterus benchleyi, after Jaws author Peter Benchley. They are roughly 18 inches long and have patches of photophores on their snout, sides, and belly. These tiny light-omitting organs are what gives them the ability to glow.

But, ninja lanternsharks have less photophores than their cousins, so they don’t glow as bright. They are also distinguished by their dark black color – hence the name.

These masters of the deep were originally discovered in 2010, by the Spanish research vessel Miguel Oliver. They collected eight specimens off the Pacific coast of Central America at depths ranging between 2,700 and 4,700 feet.

With the help of the Pacific Shark Resource Center and the California Academy of Sciences, they determined that the ninja shark was indeed a new species. They published their findings in a journal this week.

New Species: Glowing ‘Ninja Lanternshark’ Lights up the Deep Sea

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