This weird, newly discovered ninja lanternshark glows in the dark

The ocean is a scary place full of unknown creatures and unexplored depths, and some creatures are difficult to find due to their location, small population size, or effective camouflage. Although this new creature had all three of these going for it, a group of scientists recently discovered a new species of shark off the coast of Central America.

Etmopterus benchleyi, also called the ninja laternshark, is a small black creature discovered in the eastern Pacific Ocean named after Jaws author Peter Benchley. According to Hakai Magazine, lead author Victoria Elena Vásquez coined the “ninja lanternshark” designation after a conversation with her 8 year old cousins. (They wanted to go with “Super Ninja Shark”, but Vásquez decided to rein it in just a bit)

“We don’t know a lot about lanternsharks. They don’t get much recognition compared to a great white,” said Vásquez, a graduate student at the Pacific Shark Research Center out of California.

New shark, strange abilities

According to the study published in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation this month, most specimens were collected off the coast of Costa Rica at a depth between 836-1443 meters. All specimens collected were entirely black with small white patches around their eyes and mouth—making them very difficult to spot in the dark water.

While not much is known about the shark so far, the creature has some interesting abilities. The shark uses photopores to create a faint glow to blend in with the low light levels of its habitat. Vásquez thinks the shark’s dark coloration coupled with the photopores would make for a very effective predator.

The ninja lanternshark is fairly small—the largest female collected was 515 mm (1.68 feet) long and the largest male was 325 mm (1.06 feet) long.

The ocean still has many untapped secrets, and we’re excited to see more of them.


Feature Image: Vicky Vasquez