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The ‘most primitive’ of sharks caught on video prowling bottom of deep sea trench

This sharpnose sevengill shark was captured on video 2,500 feet down in a trench near the Bahamas. Facebook screenshot
This sharpnose sevengill shark was captured on video 2,500 feet down in a trench near the Bahamas. Facebook screenshot

A first ever video of “the most primitive of the modern sharks” in the wild was unveiled this week by Beneath the Waves, a research nonprofit devoted to shark conservation.

The minute-long video, featuring footage taken in May, shows what appears to be a pink shark prowling a deep ocean trench off the Bahamas known as the Tongue of the Ocean.

It was filmed 2,500 feet down and the shark is a male sharpnose sevengill, a deep water shark which SharkSider.com describes as both little known and primitive “as they are most similar to sharks from the fossil record.”

Beneath the Waves posted the video on its Facebook page Tuesday, calling it “the first ever recorded behaviors of this species in the wild.” The video has been viewed more than 5,500 times in the past day.

Though the shark appears pink, that’s an optical illusion.

“They are not pink,” Beneath the Waves Chief Scientist Dr. Austin Gallagher told the Charlotte Observer. “They are light brown/gray, with white underside. The light from camera makes them seem pink.”

Most of what is known about the sharpnose sevengill was gleaned from examples of the shark caught by “longline fishing,” according to a research paper from the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation that accompanied the video.

The video provides new insights into the behavior of “this elusive shark,” Gallagher said.

“These sharks live most of their lives in complete darkness. To be able to find one in this new locality is huge and it underscores the value of this type of exploration science,” Gallagher told the Observer.

“As fishing nations continue to over fish the upper portion of the water, they will begin looking to deep-water ecosystems. We need to catalog what is down there in order to inspire the public, and ultimately governments, that these areas hold incredible biodiversity.”

Sharpnose sevengill sharks grow to just under 5 feet, and have “an acutely pointed head” with “five rows of comb-shaped teeth,” says the Shark Research Institute.

They’re behavior is “poorly known,” but experts believe they’re “strong, active swimmers, and will bite when captured,” says the institute.

For more information on Beneath the Waves, visit www.BeneathTheWaves.org.

This video from late February 2018 documents the discovery of a humpback whale carcass nearly 30 miles off Cumberland Island, and how sharks -- including some large great whites -- quickly scavenged the 28-foot-long whale until little was left.

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