Ninja Lanternshark

Ninja LanternsharkA few years ago, Douglas Long and his colleagues from the California Academy of Sciences were helping D. Ross Robertson identify some chimaeras caught off the Pacific coast of Central America in 2010. Among the images were those of a mysterious pitch black shark. Intrigued, the marine ichthyologist asked the Smithsonian Institute researcher to lend him the preserved specimens so that his team could study the fish in detail.

When the shark specimens arrived, the researchers immediately suspected that they had stumbled upon a new species. To verify, they turned to shark expert Victoria Vasquez for help. It took a few years, but on December 21, 2015, the team was finally able to confirm that their initial hunch had been correct.

Etmopterus benchleyi, (named after Peter Benchley) also known as the Ninja lanternshark is a lanternshark of the family Etmopteridae found in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Nicaragua, south to Panama and Costa Rica. The depth range of collections is from 836–1443m along the continental slope. E. benchleyi is the only Etmopterus species presently known from the Pacific coast of Central America.

The ninja lanternshark is coloured black with the mouth and eyes having white markings around them. The maximum length of male specimens collected during the Miguel Oliver voyages is 12.8 inches (325 millimetres) while that of the female specimens is 20.3 inches (515 millimetres). This species is distinct from other members of the E. spinax clade in having dense concentrations of dermal denticles closely surrounding the eyes and gill openings.

Read the paper published by Victoria Elena Vásquez, David A. Ebert, and Douglas J. Long »