Scientists have found three deepwater shark species living off New Zealand glow in the dark.
The species were collected from the Chatham Rise – an area of ocean floor east of New Zealand – in January last year, according to the study.
One of them, the kitefin shark, is now the largest known luminous vertebrate and can reach up to six feet. Bioluminescence – organisms emitting light – was also confirmed in the blackbelly and southern lanternsharks.
The three species were already known to marine biologists but this is the first time the phenomenon of bioluminescence, achieved through thousands of light-producing cells within the sharks’ skin, has been identified in them.
While many marine animals – as well as some insects such as fireflies – produce their own light, this is the first time it has been found in larger sharks.
The researchers suggest the sharks’ glowing underbellies may help them hide from predators or other threats beneath them.