The kitefin shark is a guitar-sized creature with brownish-black skin and large, gaping eyes. But there is more to this shark than initially meets the eye: in the dark, it will emit a blue glow. On a 2020 voyage near Chatham Rise off the eastern coast of New Zealand, a team of international scientists discovered that the kitefin shark (Dalatias licha) and two other deep-sea shark species, the blackbelly lanternshark (Etmopterus lucifer) and the southern lanternshark (Etmopterus granulosus), all have bioluminescent properties. “We have something like 540 shark species in the ocean [and] there are 57 of them able to produce light — so more than 10% of the sharks,” Jérôme Mallefet, a marine biologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and lead author of a new study on the discovery, told Mongabay in an interview. “But do people know they are able to produce light? No, not much.” Luminescent patterns of Dalatias licha. Photo by Jérôme Mallefet / UC Louvain. There are countless other species that are bioluminescent — from jellyfish to squid to algae — but the kitefin shark is the largest known vertebrate to produce bioluminescence, according to the study. The three shark species inhabit the mesopelagic zone of the ocean, also known as the twilight zone, which ranges from 200 to 1000 meters (660 to 3,300 feet) in depth. Only the tiniest amount of sunlight can reach this region, creating a dim, blue glow. Most marine organisms that produce bioluminescence contain special chemicals, including a…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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