Ghost sharks, sometimes also called chimaeras, are rarely ever seen by humans. As a matter of fact, they've never been seen alive - that is, until researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute captured this one-of-a-kind footage of a real, live ghost shark doing its thing.
Ghost sharks inhabit some of the deepest, darkest corners of the ocean, and up to this point, researchers have only ever found dead specimens. Still, what they've been able to study has revealed that ghost sharks have been swimming around down there since before the dinosaurs. These ancient depth-dwellers are relatives of sharks and rays that split off from that branch of the family tree about 300 million years ago.
The rare footage was actually captured by a bit of dumb luck. Dave Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, says, "Normally, people probably wouldn’t have been looking around in this area [for the ghost shark]." Sure enough, the researchers who discovered the ghost shark weren't looking for it - they were geologists.
The footage was from an expedition from 2009, captured by a remotely operated vehicle diving off the coast of Hawaii and California. After examining the footage, they could tell that the shark that kept bumping up against the camera looked like a ghost shark, but they weren't quite sure.
Chimaera experts now believe it to be a pointy-nosed blue chimaera (Hydrolagus trolli), usually native to the coasts of New Zealand and Australia. That means that this rare footage isn't just the first footage of a live ghost shark, but also the first sighting of this species in the Northern Hemisphere. Check out the video below and see it for yourself.