The scientists at the Pacific Shark Research Center got a wonderful Christmas gift in the form of a brand new shark discovery. For the rest of the knee jerk, shark-fearing world, it is likely the kind of discovery that is going to keep people out of the water. Meet the ninja lantern shark, also know as Etmopterus benchleyi — named after Jaws author Peter Benchley. It is sleek, black, camouflaged, and it glows in the dark. All the better for the hunt.
The shark was discovered by researched Vicky Vasquez, who also helped to name the animal with some assistance from her 8-year-old cousins according to Hakai Magazine:
Vásquez explained to the kids that this shark uses photophores in its skin to produce a faint glow in the deep, dark ocean. Scientists believe the animals, which can grow to about half a meter in length, use this cloaking ability to blend in with the limited light penetrating the ocean’s depths and appear invisible from below. This helps them sneak up on small fish and shrimp while also avoiding becoming lunch for larger predators.
This super stealth, combined with the animal’s sleek, black appearance led the kids to suggest naming it the “Super Ninja Shark.” Vásquez says she didn’t think her colleagues would quite go for that, so she got them to scale the name back a little.
“We don’t know a lot about lanternsharks. They don’t get much recognition compared to a great white,” says Vásquez, who is a graduate student at the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) in California. “So when it came to this shark I wanted to give it an interesting story.”