This Shark Can Glow in the Dark and Has an Even Cooler Name

January 5,2016 at 03:21 am

It`s sleek and stealthy, wearing all black except for its glow-in-the-dark accents. This shark is cool enough as it is, but scientists have bumped this newly discovered species up to Coolest Shark Ever status by naming it "The Ninja." 

The species` scientific name is also more interesting than most. Dubbed Etmopterus benchleyi, the lanternshark was named after the author of "Jaws" and avid shark conservationist Peter Benchley.

The shark`s common name was inspired by a conversation that one of the researchers had with her young "shark enthusiast" relatives ages 8 through 14. According to Hakai Magazine, Vicky Vásquez`s cousins originally suggested the name "Super Ninja Shark" when they heard that this sneaky shark can blend in with its surroundings. 

Researchers recently described the new species after studying specimens collected off the Pacific coast of Central America and comparing the sharks to other species of lanternsharks. They recently published their findings in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. The study describes the shark as growing about 18 inches in length  – which Vásquez says is not exactly menacing. 

"I`ve seen a few reports alluding to how dangerous and scary this shark might be, which is pretty funny to me since the largest one we found (a full grown adult) was 515 mm (20 inches) long from head to tail," Vásquez told "Since we don`t have a lot of specimens we can`t confirm if they grow larger. Nevertheless, since it lives in the deep sea a chance encounter with people is highly unlikely. You would need a submersible to better your odds at finding one." 

According to Live Science, other lanternshark species are known to glow, but this species hasn`t been observed glowing yet. Researchers think the lanternsharks use their photophores to hide, to lure prey or possibly to communicate with other sharks.

"It redefines our conception of sharks from being these massive fearsome things to these beautiful sometimes small, glowing animals," David Gruber, an associate biology professor at Baruch College in New York said of the recent findings in an interview with Live Science. He was not involved with the study. "It shows us how many more mysteries there to uncover in the shark domain."