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Home / Science / Glowing sharks in the dark: scientists are discovering crazy new species in the Gulf of Mexico

Glowing sharks in the dark: scientists are discovering crazy new species in the Gulf of Mexico



Shining sharks are real and swim in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scientists have discovered a new, tiny species of luminescent sharks, according to a new study by Tulane University.

The animal, the first of its kind in the Atlantic, has been called the American Pocket Shark because of its appallingly small size. Overall, it's only 5 1/2 inches long.

The tiny creature is covered with light-producing glands and even has a small pouch that spouts clouds of glowing fluid. Scientists believe the sharks use light to attract prey, which is often lit when swimming in deep, dark water.

Scientists have previously discovered only one other pocket-shark, and it was a completely different species. The other shark was discovered as early as 1979 in the Pacific Ocean.

CONNECTION: Where are shark attacks most common?

10 PHOTOS

States with the most shark attacks since time immemorial

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10. New York: 10 unprovoked attacks

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9. Georgia: 13 unprovoked attacks

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7. Oregon: 26 unprovoked attacks

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6. Texas: 41 unprovoked shark attacks

17 attacks were confirmed on the sprawling beach of Glaveston.

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5. North Carolina: 60 unprovoked attacks

13 shark attacks have been confirmed in New Hanover County since 1935.

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4. South Carolina: 90 Unprovoked Attacks

Throughout its history, Charleston County had 32 shark incidents.

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3. California: 116 unprovoked attacks

San Diego had 17 attacks near its beaches.

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2. Hawaii: 143 unprovoked attacks

56 occurred in Maui, home of the beaches of Wailea and Mākena.

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1. Florida: 748 unprovoked attacks

At least 275 confirmed attacks occurred in Volusia County, home of the New Smyrna and Dayton beaches.

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Fisheries science, only two pocket sharks were ever caught or reported, "said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researcher, Mark Grace, in a statement , "Both species come from different oceans. Both are extremely rare. "

Many marine animals can glow in the dark – more than 90 percent of open-water animals can produce light, according to NOAA – but it's an incredibly rare feature for sharks. There are more than 500 known shark species on the planet, of which only three are luminescent.

Tulane researcher Henry Bart noted that the discovery shows how dark the scientists are when it comes to exploring the oceans.

"The fact that only one pocket-shark was ever reported from the Gulf of Mexico and that it is a new species underscores how little we know about the Gulf," said Bart.


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