Rare ‘ghost shark’ captured on video for the first time

Researchers from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently captured footage of a great number of rare species while on dives up to 6,700 feet below the sea off the coast of southern California, central California and the Hawaiian islands in 2009. The footage was released October, but one particular discovery been catching a lot of attention this past week.

One of the cameras recorded hydrolagus cf. trolli, also known as a “ghost shark” or pointy-nosed blue chimaera, in deep waters near Hawaii.

And it was a happy accident, as it turns out. The institute wasn’t even looking for the species, which is thought to have been around even before dinosaurs according to National Geographic.

“The only way we can collect these species is by trawling,” said marine biologist Dominique Didier. “So, it’s like a snapshot. Imagine trying to understand species distribution in Lake Michigan and you sample the lake using a Dixie cup. Trawling the ocean is like that.”

National Geographic’s Enio Leyva described its look as “stitched together from other fish parts.” The fish also has a retractable sex organ on its head.

The species takes its name from artist Ray Troll, who was known for his fascination with ancient animal. The “cf” means the creature is thought to be hydrolagus trolli, but has yet to be confirmed, according to National Geographic.