The Shark that glows in the deep,dark sea

Kitefin Shark

The world is full of mysterious and interesting creatures and this year is proving especially lucky for scientists to identify unique organisms. In February, a rodent named Springshare was identified, which glows pink and orange in ultraviolet rays. Living in the savannah forests of East Africa, this organism produces this color with the help of the porphyrin pigments present in its hair.

Recently, the world’s largest luminous vertebrate has been identified near New Zealand. This blue glowing creature is a kitefin shark (Biological name- Dalatias licha), which can grow to be around six feet tall. It shows the property of bioluminescence. Scientists have published an article about it in the Frontier Marine Science Journal, however they have not yet found what process it uses to shut off or turn on its luminescence.

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. It is a form of chemi-luminescence i.e. using chemical substances to produce light. Bioluminescence occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms including some bioluminescent bacteria, and terrestrial arthropods such as fireflies.

Scientists at the Catholic University of Belgium conducted a sea search expedition to identify kitefin sharks. According to Jerome Melfet, he was successful in taking a picture of a living shark. Their samples were also taken to research about the science behind the bioluminescence the shark shows.

According to scientists, bioluminescence is advantageous to this creature as this glow is meant to dodge big enemies. The blue glow of these sharks helps them to camouflage in the blue light coming from the sky and hide to avoid becoming the food of bigger fishes.

The hormone that helps us sleep makes the shark glow. This glow is not caused by hormones, but from their brain or nervous system. This hormone is melatonin, which helps us sleep, but gives shine to the sharks. However, it is not very clear whether these hormones have anything to do with the brightness of the shark.