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Glow-in-the-dark shark captured on film for the first time

March 3, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 46%. 1 min read.

Scientists have taken the first ever photos of a glow-in-the-dark shark producing its own light.

Some 57 of the 540 known shark species are thought to be capable of producing light, study co-author Jérôme Mallefet, head of the marine biology laboratory at UCLouvain, told CNN on Wednesday.

While specimens had previously shown that the kitefin shark should be capable of producing light, they are "really difficult to observe," as they live between 200 and 900 meters (656-2,953 feet) below the ocean's surface, Mallefet said.

"I was just like a kid at the bottom of a Christmas tree," said Mallefet, describing how he managed to take a picture of a kitefin shark in a bucket in a dark room on the ship.

Many people mistakenly believe there is no light visible there, but there is some light that the sharks find useful, Mallefet said.

"They use light to disappear," he said, explaining how bioluminescence can render the sharks invisible against the faint glow from the ocean's surface.

This protects the sharks from predators swimming below them, and also makes it easier for them to hunt prey, Mallefet said.

"We know that's the case for Dalatias licha," he said, as the remains of smaller sharks were found inside the bellies of some specimens despite the fact that the species is the slowest swimming shark in the world.

Mallefet told CNN he would like to study the dorsal fin in greater detail on future trips to the area, as well as looking into what the sharks eat and whether they are eaten.

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