Bioluminescent Shark Found in New Zealand Provides Insight into Deep Sea Life


Gabriela Danger, Writer

Recently, a group of scientists diving in New Zealand have stumbled upon a peculiar finding— a deep sea blackbelly lanternshark that glows in the dark.

As of right now, it is the largest known luminous vertebrate (organism with a spine).

The reason for its luminous nature is because it possesses bioluminescence, the product of a chemical reaction caused by tiny organisms within the body or a larger one.

There have been previous findings of other bioluminescent organisms worldwide, but never in a shark!

The shark belongs to a family called “kitefin” sharks and they can grow to be fairly large. Researchers from local universities in New Zealand say the reason it is such an oddity is because it provides people into a glimpse of life in the deep sea, something humans know fairly little about.

These sharks live in the “twilight zone” of the ocean in which light does not reach. Scientists have begun to notice a pattern in deep sea creatures, leading them to believe producing their own light is a critical part of living down there. They speculate that the light they produce may help them camouflage and find food on the dark ocean floor.

While no hypothesis can be confirmed yet, the discovery of such a creature is something that may spur interest in ocean exploration.

I asked my friend Mia Castellon what she thought of the discovery. She is part of ILS’s environmental club and has an acute interest in ocean studies.

She said she was interested in learning about that shark species “it’s incredible that a shark can possess that ability.”

She also commented on how unexpected its discovery was. “I’ve never heard of a bioluminescent shark before!”

Hopefully this discovery can ease people in to learning more about our oceans. After all, humans do not know much about it, which means more amazing discoveries are yet to come.

For more information, check out the story here.