Researchers capture deep-sea shark that's older than dinosaurs

A team of scientists recently captured the elusive bluntnose sixgill shark, a deep-sea fish that has been on Earth before dinosaurs, on film. 

Experts from OceanX, a New York-based organization involved in maritime research, and Florida State University announced in a blog post that they had successfully tagged the secretive shark while they were in the Bahamas last month — a rare feat, considering the shark's natural habitat. 

"Because bluntnose sixgills are a deep sea species, it’s hard on them physiologically to be tagged in this way," the researchers explained. "In their typical life cycle, they won’t experience daylight, and very rarely will they feel the low pressure, warmer temperatures of surface waters." 

A 43-second clip from the team shows the shark swimming incredibly close to Alucia, the group's submarine, before swimming away.

Scientists had previously tried to tag a bluntnose sixgill in August 2018 but came up short when the shark rolled its belly at the last moment. A second attempt was made in February, but the speargun that researchers used unfortunately didn't fire. 

"Needless to say, when we knew there was one more opportunity for Alucia to visit Bahamas after her end-to-end survey of the Florida Keys, we decided that this one would be 'third time’s the charm,'" the team said. 

The bluntnose sixgill is a stout, brown-and-dark-gray shark with six gill slits. It closely resembles fossil forms dating from 200 million years ago, predating many — but not all — dinosaurs, the Florida Museum notes. The sluggish fish can grow up to 16 feet and can be found in temperate and tropical seas. It normally preys on large bony and cartilaginous fish, snails and cephalopods. 

Sixgill sharks are notoriously difficult to capture on film, but they have been recorded before, according to Fox News. In 2016, researchers with OceanGate, a company that provides manned submersible technology, discovered a sixgill shark near British Columbia’s Desolation Sound. Last year, scientists came across the Atlantic sixgill shark — a new species of shark — in the Atlantic Ocean. 

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