By Yasmine Salam

If any further proof was needed of the vast unexplored wonders of the deep sea, this would fit the bill: researchers in New Zealand have discovered three new shark species that glow in the dark.

The kitefin shark is now the biggest-known luminous vertebrate and inhabits the deep sea.Dr. J. Mallefet – FNRS, UCLouvain

The study, published in the Frontiers in Marine Science journal, explains how the kitefin shark, the blackbelly lanternshark, and the southern lanternshark were found during a survey off the Chatham rise, an oceanic area off New Zealand’s east coast, in January 2020.

Among the three glowing sharks, the kitefin shark is now the largest-known luminous underwater creature. The shark is usually found swimming 300 meters (984 feet) below sea level and preys on smaller sharks, ground fish and crustaceans.

Though light emission has been documented before in a range of aquatic life, including jellyfish and squids, the discovery is the first time scientists have been able to find proof of bioluminescence in sharks.

Shining discovery: Glow-in-the-dark sharks found off New Zealand

The study refers to the kitefin as a “giant luminous shark,” and it can grow to 1.8 meters in length (almost 6 feet). But that comes way short of the 25-foot Great White shark featured in Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws.”

Led by marine biologists in Belgium and New Zealand, the study could change how we view life in the deep sea.

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