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.
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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.