5 Facts about Ghost Sharks

5 Facts about Ghost Sharks

Cape Clasp is on a mission to #makewaves for marine life causes, and that includes spreading awareness about our ocean friends! This week, we're focusing on the Ghost Shark (perfect for spooky season)!

THEY'RE NOT REALLY SHARKS

Ghost Sharks get their name from their dark eyes and wing-like shape that resemble a ghost, but they aren't actually sharks (though they are close relatives). They also go by the names: "elephant fish", "spookfish", and "Ray Troll’s Chimaera", after an Alaskan artist who was fascinated by these creatures.

WE DIDN'T KNOW THEY EXISTED UNTIL 18 YEARS AGO

The Ghost Shark was first discovered in 2002, but they've been around for between 340 and 360 million years. They even have their own day: International Ghost Shark Day, which is celebrated on October 30th!

THEY ARE NATIVE TO THE SOUTHEASTERN PACIFIC (BUT LIKE TO VENTURE)

These spooky sea creatures are native to the Southeastern Pacific (they mostly reside around Australia and New Zealand) but have recently been found off the coast of Hawaii and California.

THEY'RE CRUSHERS, NOT SHREDERS

Unlike true sharks, Ghost Sharks have mineralized tooth plates that they use to crush mollusks and worms instead of rows of replaceable sharp teeth the are made for shredding and tearing. (And their teeth don't fall out like their relatives' do, their pearly whites continue to grow!)

THEY PREFER THE COLD

They live at depths of 400 - 6,600 feet, in near-freezing water temperatures. But scientists have reported some Ghost Sharks migrating into estuaries and inshore bays during the spring months to mate! 

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Image by NOAA Ocean Explorer