Researchers have discovered a pocket shark that was collected from the Gulf of Mexico. They added that it was only the second specimen in this genus ever reported.
Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found tiny version of the extremely rare shark in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 with lots of other creatures, during a government research trip. The dead specimen spent more than three years in a giant freezer waiting to be identified.
The researchers added that it is only the second of its species ever seen. The first pocket shark was found 36 years ago in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru and it’s been sitting in a Russian museum ever since.
Michael Doosey, researcher with the NOAA, and one of the members of the study, said, “It’s cute. It almost looks like a little whale.”
According to the NOAA researchers, the tiny, pocket shark was a few weeks old male. It is about 5.5 inches long. They added that it is strange that such a type of shark has two pockets next to its front fins. However, the researchers stated that the purpose of these two pockets is not known. They are not quite like a kangaroo, which uses its pouch to carry young. They added that only few species have pockets this large, which is about 4% of the shark’s body.
Mark Grace, fisheries biologist with the NOAA, and one of the members of the study and who discovered the shark after 3 years of work, said “I wasn’t really sure what it was. That pocket cover on the pectoral fin, I had never seen anything like that on a shark.”
The researchers stated that it was a miracle that it wasn’t accidently thrown away. The shark has now been shipped to New York and France for high-tech examinations that wouldn’t puncture the specimen.