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article imageGlowing shark found deep in the ocean

By Tim Sandle     Feb 23, 2013 in Environment
A new species of shark, found deep in the ocean, has been studied. What is unusual about the shark is that it has two bioluminescent arcs on its dorsal fins, which 'glow' to frighten predators.
The remarkable shark is the velvet belly lanternshark, (Etmopterus spinax), which lives in the mesopelagic zone of the ocean, which has a range between 200 and 1,000 meters in depth. The sharks are quite small, at around 24 inches long. It is a species of dogfish shark found in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, the velvet belly is found from Iceland and Norway to Gabon and South Africa.
For self-defense the shark, according to Scientific Reports, has spines on its bag. When threatened, the shark raises these towards predators with two bioluminescent arcs on its dorsal fins. These are described as "light organs (photophores) adjacent to the dorsal defensive spines of a small deep-sea lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax)".
Etmopterus spinax  as a specimen.
Etmopterus spinax, as a specimen.
Irvin Kilde
The function of the glowing fins, scientists consider, is for the sharks to use the light that shines through their translucent spines to warn predators that they will be a painful meal. The glow would be visible from several meters away.
One of the researchers, Julien Claes,of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, is quoted by the BBC to simplify this idea: "It’s a way to say: ‘Don’t bite me, I’m dangerous, I have spines on my back."
He further added: "Imagine you are below the shark, the shark is swimming and you have the light from the Sun coming down. If you are just below the shark what you are going to see is a shadow. So imagine if the shark can actually produce a light, which is identical to the light produced by the Sun. Then the shadow of the shark is going to disappear."
The lanternshark will be the subject of further research.
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