NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A pocket-sized pocket shark found in the Gulf of Mexico turns out to be a new species.
And the mysterious pouches that it’s named for? Scientists say they squirt little glowing clouds into the ocean.
Researchers from around the Gulf and in New York have named the species the American pocket shark, or Mollisquama (mah-lihs-KWAH-muh) mississippiensis (MISS-ih-SIP-ee-EHN-sis).
This 5.6-inch (142-millimeter) newborn male fished up in 2010 resembled a (16-inch) 400-millimeter adult female pocket shark found decades ago off Peru. This time, scientists figured out what the little pouches do.
A recent paper in the journal “Zootaxa” (ZOO-oh-TAX-uh) says the muscular glands are lined with fluorescent projections covered with pigment, indicating they squirt luminous liquid.
A scientist not involved in the research says it shows how little we know about what lives in the world’s oceans.