Another New Zealand native, The Fins United Initiative brings you the slow growing, deepwater dark ghost shark, Hydrolagus novaezealandiae. (Can we just take a second to appreciate ITS AWESOME NAME?)
Hydrolagus novaezealandiae is caught almost entirely as bycatch in trawl fisheries that mainly target hoki. Fun fact: Trawl surveys show that the dark and pale ghost sharks (Hydrolagus bemisi) have differences mainly influenced by water depth!
They occur throughout the New Zealand EEZ, but are rarely seen north of 40° S. They are usually observed in depths of 30 – 850 meters deep, but most abundant around 150- 500 meters off of the South Island/Chatham Rise and around 150-700 meters on the Stewart-Snares shelf and Southland/sub-Antarctic.
Clearly, Melissa needs to get on a vessel and go to these places because she really wants to go to Antarctica guys. Beside the point.
The smaller dark ghost sharks tend to be more abundant in shallower waters (no more than 200 m deep). Best place to see the younger ones are Canterbury Bight, from what Melissa has heard.
There is a major lack of data on their biology. In fact, there is NO published information available on the age/growth rate of any Hydrolagus critters. Take it a step further, the same rings true for any species in the Chimaeridae family! Isn’t that nuts?!
Like most elasmobranchs, dark ghost shark fecundity is likely to be low. Back in 2008, a New Zealand National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks was developed, yet there was nothing specific for ghost sharks. Their unknown status in fish stocks and whether their catch levels are sustainable are rather… well, concerning. Something to keep an eye on! However, their IUCN assessment is Least Concern (LC).
ever heard of this ghostshark?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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