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Florida beaches may have another type of visitor soon – and this one glows in the dark.
A new shark species, named the American Pocket Shark, was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico by a team of researchers from the University of Florida, Tulane University and the NOAA.
At just 5.5 inches, the American Pocket Shark is named for its two small pockets that hold a secret superpower – they can glow in the dark.
The luminous fluid released by the shark is used to attract prey, while the ‘tiny predator’ remains undetectable below its glow.
“In the history of fisheries science, only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported,” Mark Grace, one of the researchers, said in a press release. “Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare.”
The first of these sharks was discovered in 1979 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, now on display at the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
This pocket shark was collected in 2010 during a mission to study patterns of sperm whale feeding, but it wasn’t until 2013 when Grace discovered the shark and studied its origin.
Due to its size and relative uniqueness, it is not considered a threat but more of a wonder.
Henry Bart, director of the Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute, said: “The fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf.”