Please select your home edition
Edition
SWC newsletters (top)

Tiny shark fits in your pocket and glows in the dark

by NOAA Fisheries 1 Aug 2019 13:25 UTC
Pocket sharks have two small pockets (one on each side near the gills) that produce luminous fluid (shown in blue). © Mark Grace / NOAA

A team of researchers, including NOAA Fisheries' scientist Mark Grace, have now identified the small kitefin shark as the American Pocket Shark.

This newly identified species of pocket shark was brought to Tulane University Biodiversity Research Institute back in the spring of 2015.

Since then researchers have been studying the tiny shark, and comparing it to the only other known specimen of this kind. The original specimen was captured in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in 1979 and is now housed at the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The species was identified based on five features not seen in the 1979 specimen. Those differences include fewer vertebrae and numerous light-producing photophores (light producing organs) that cover much of the body. The two species both have two small pockets that produce luminous fluid (one on each side near the gills).

The American pocket shark was collected in February 2010 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico by the NOAA ship Pisces, during a mission to study sperm whale feeding.

The details of the new species are described in an article published in the animal taxonomy journal Zootaxa.

*This article was adapted from the Tulane University press release announcing the new specimen.

Related Articles

Little relief in the deep for heat-stressed corals
New research shows coral reefs in deeper water aren't immune to warming seas and coral bleaching A team of NOAA scientists recently examined more than a thousand hot water events on coral reefs across the Pacific Ocean. Posted on 16 Jan
How to help free entangled whales in Hawaii
Course helps to better assist trained responders disentangle large whales Entanglement in ropes, nets, and other marine debris is a major threat to the humpbacks and other large whales of Hawaii. But attempting to free an entangled, multi-ton whale is inherently dangerous. Posted on 16 Jan
Introducing Pacific Islands feature stories 2019
A recent study used machine learning to examine vocalizations of false killer whale populations Over the past decade, researchers have determined that false killer whales around the Hawaiian Islands have three distinct populations, one of which is endangered. Posted on 13 Jan
Announcing Mission: Iconic Reefs
A large-scale coral reef restoration effort in the Florida Keys I'm excited to let you know that NOAA Fisheries, along with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and other partners, have launched a coral reef restoration effort titled Mission: Iconic Reefs. Posted on 12 Jan
Pacific Islands Must-Reads of 2019
The 10 stories that resonated the most with readers In 2019, we brought you science and conservation stories covering a wide range of topics important to the Pacific Islands region. Posted on 12 Jan
Top photos of 2019 from NOAA Fisheries
The longest-running ocean monitoring program on the planet Those of us fortunate enough to live on the West Coast know that the Pacific Ocean changes constantly, with dramatic effects on our weather, fisheries, and species from sardines to sharks that populate the California Current Ecosystem. Posted on 11 Jan
Top photos of 2019 from NOAA Fisheries
Five most liked Instagram photos of 2019 A very large flatfish, flying squid, and grumpy lumpfish are among our five most liked Instagram photos of 2019. Posted on 22 Dec 2019
Resilient New England Coral
The northern star coral is uniquely able to live in a variety of environments and climates The northern star coral is uniquely able to live in a variety of environments and climates, including New England. The secrets of its adaptability may help tropical coral reefs. Posted on 21 Dec 2019
Your favorite features of 2019
See our list of the top 5 feature stories of 2019 Sharks, sea turtles, and whales—oh my! See our list of the top 5 feature stories of 2019. Posted on 21 Dec 2019
Lava flow time portals
Understanding the development of deep-water coral communities Deep-water coral communities are some of the most diverse and productive environments in the deep ocean. They provide habitat for an array of organisms including some not yet known to science. Posted on 20 Dec 2019
MBW newsletters (top)