Scientists have identified a pocket shark that was collected from the Gulf of Mexico, only the second specimen in this genus ever reported, they say. Here are images of the teensy shark. [Read the full story on the Gulf pocket shark]
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collected the pocket shark specimen in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico offshore Louisiana. They pulled it up from the deep sea, though it was dead when they went to sort it from the rest of the catch. (Credit: Fishwatch.gov)
The Gulf pocket shark sported a pocket gland with a slit-like opening just above the pectoral fin. Scientists aren't sure the function of this gland, though they've suggested perhaps it secretes pheromones for mate attraction or it releases a luminous fluid that could be used to attract mates or prey, or even to elude predators. (Credit J. Wicker, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC/Miami Laboratory)
Here scientists are measuring the pocket shark specimen from the Gulf of Mexico. (Credit: M. Doosey/Tulane University)
The shark is teensy, measuring some 5 inches (13 centimeters) long and weighing a mere half ounce (14.6 grams), the researchers reported online April 22 in the journal Zootaxa. (Credit: M. Doosey/Tulane University)
Mark Grace, of NOAA Fisheries' Pascagoula, Mississippi, Laboratory, said the reason this is only the second specimen of a pocket shark known has to do with both the shark's rarity and that it is difficult to catch in the deep sea with the typical survey gear. He added, in an email to Live Science: "We have an interest to expand our knowledge of this shark and other associated fauna and will take advantage of any opportunities to further our research." (Credit: M. Grace/NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC/Mississippi Laboratories)
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Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.