BelizeThe researchers were surprised to find the Greenland shark in the tropical Caribbean, thousands of kilometers away from its common habitat.
A Belizean fisherman and a biologist caught a shark with strange blue eyes in the Caribbean on April 22. Recently, researchers identified the unusual fish as a Greenland shark or a hybrid between a Greenland shark and a sleeper shark.
The fish was caught at Glover Reef off the coast of Belize and the crew immediately knew it was special because they had never seen one like it in all their years of fishing, according to Devanshi Kasana, a research fellow. PhD student at Florida International University, lead researcher. Kasana et al describe the shark in a magazine Marine Biology July 15th.
With an estimated length of 3.5 meters, the mysterious shark was released before official confirmation. Sleeper sharks usually live in the coldest and deepest seas while Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) resides in the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean. The waters surrounding Glover Reef are very deep, from 500 to 2,900 m. The new findings support the theory that these two species of sharks may be more widely distributed than previously thought.
Kasana is working with Belizean fishermen to tag tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) then came across a strange shark. The approaching storm forced the crew to release it almost immediately for safety reasons, so they could not take genetic samples. In the new study, Kasana’s team looked at video and photographs of sharks during capture. She found it shared many key features with the Greenland shark and other sleeper sharks, including a rounded snout, low, rounded pectoral fins and an eye parasite. The shark was also lethargic and slow moving as is common in sleeper sharks when they are caught. The team concluded that this is most likely a Greenland shark or a hybrid between a Greenland shark and a Pacific sleeper shark (Somniosus pacificus).
The Greenland shark is the longest living vertebrate on Earth. A 2016 study in the journal Science They are estimated to have a maximum lifespan of at least 272 years. They both eat carrion and hunt live prey.
An Khang (Follow Live Science)