Oceanographers and Marine Biologists know all too that we don’t have to look to the cosmos to encounter strange, fascinating, and even alien-like creatures. Scientists estimate that only around five percent of the world’s oceans have been explored.
With the most cavernous oceans reaching depths of up to 2.3 miles, this isn’t surprising. However, as one research team discovered, the ocean bottom is usually where the rarest, most mind-boggling creatures usually live.
The famous island nation of New Zealand is known by many names. It has been referred to as “God’s own country”, “The land of the long, white cloud”, and “the paradise of the Pacific”.
With its diverse landscapes, people, and cultures, the country is also renowned for many other features, some good, and some more infamous.
While the country is known for its relative safety, low crime rates, and natural beauty, there is one feature that often makes living there a perilous choice.
The reason for this is that the country is located along the boundary of the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate. These are two major tectonic plates that make the regions particularly prone to devastating earthquakes.
New Zealand is a member of the commonwealth nations and shares a rich, and sometimes, fractious history in that regard.
While many people admire the warm people that live there such as the indigenous Māori people, the country is also well known for its national Rugby team, the infamous “All Blacks”.
The Rugby team got its nickname from the all-black kit it uses. The team is famous for winning the Rugby World Cup three times, a record they share with South Africa.
Before each match, the team is also famous for performing an intimidating war dance known as the Haka. These are just some of the things the country is well known for. However, there is another, lesser-known reason, for which the country is renowned.
The Crown Research Institutes are New Zealand’s corporatized entities that have been tasked with conducting scientific research.
Among these, one entity sticks out for the diverse and significant research it conducts. In collaboration with other nations, this institute has become world-renowned.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) conducts research and scientific inquiry. Among many other things, they are tasked with leading research into solutions for a sustainable environmental future.
Researchers pay close attention to the world’s oceans to help unlock its mysteries and help secure its future. Being at the forefront of such work can be exciting and groundbreaking. However, despite their unusual jobs, even their scientists are capable of being surprised at what they find too.
Since one of the institute’s main areas of expertise is the oceans, deepsea diving and survey expeditions are commonplace.
Scientific research can be a tedious process. However, on one such expedition, scientists ended up finding something far more engrossing than they intended.
The ocean bottoms were well-known for having the rarest and most unusual sea creatures. Some were so startling, freaky, or strange that people often mistook their images for fakes.
To a person that didn’t know better, some of the creatures that lived at seafloor depths could easily seem like aliens. It was therefore every marine researcher’s dream to come across one.
It began on a normal survey trip. Scientists from NIWA took part in a trawl survey to estimate the population of Hoki fish of New Zealand’s South Island.
In the process, they never bargained for what they would actually encounter. The creature was known to the marine science community. However, actually encountering one was extremely rare.
Scientists that conduct such studies have been known to find new species. The ocean floor is notorious for being home to some of the rarest and strangest creatures known to man.
The fact these kinds of fascinating creatures prefer living at immense depths that are sometimes inaccessible and void of light often gives them peculiar or even terrifying characteristics. So what did the NIWA crew find?
While trawling for Hokis, the team came across a strange hatchling. It was barely a day old and even still had a belly full of egg yolk. Once its species was confirmed, the team was ecstatic.
The creature turned out to be a baby Ghost Shark. What made the discovery so exciting was that these deep-sea dwellers were notoriously rare to find and evasive.
The baby was found at a depth of about 0.7 miles along an area of the ocean floor known as the Chatham Rise. A kind of hybrid relative of sharks and rays, ghost fish were known by many names.
The most common of its other titles was a Chimaera. In addition, this shy, elusive creature was also known by names that were as strange and fascinating as its features.
Also known as Rat Fish, Rabbit Fish, Spook Fish, or Ghost Sharks, simply finding one was rare enough. What made this particular discovery so special was the fact that the specimen was a “neonate” or newborn.
According to Dr. Brit Finucci, aside from their freaky looks, Ghost Sharks were known for other strange characteristics too.
Since these creatures were so rarely found, the specimens that did exist were usually adults. Due to the differing and sometimes frightening features they had, it was clear that the different species of host Sharks all seem to develop distinctly.
Dr. Finucci confirmed that the rare opportunity to study a baby would likely help researchers discover more about these fascinating creatures. What do you think of Ghost Sharks, freaky or cool?