Is there such a thing as a cute shark?
Is there such a thing as a cute shark? A photo of a rare pocket shark in October 2013 in Belle Chasse, La., taken out of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and discovered in a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration freezer and identified as the rare species in 2013 (AP photos)
Is there such a thing as a cute shark?
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Think Jaws meets a kangaroo, with maybe a touch of cute kitten and you've got the aptly named pocket shark. It is the newest and rarest species found off the U.S. coast.

Surprised scientists have found a tiny, young version of the extraordinarily rare shark. It was fished out of the deep Gulf of Mexico in 2010 with lots of other creatures during a government research trip. The dead specimen spent more than three years in a giant freezer waiting to be identified.

It turned out to be only the second of its species ever seen. The first pocket shark was found 36 years ago in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru. It has been sitting in a Russian museum ever since.

This pocket shark was a male. It was maybe a few weeks old, about 5.5 inches long. Strangely, this type of shark has two pockets next to its front fins. The fins' purpose is not known. It's not quite like a kangaroo. That animal uses its pouch to carry young, but few species have pockets this large about 4 percent of the shark's body.

"It's cute," said Tulane University biologist Michael Doosey. He co-authored a study in a zoological journal identifying the shark. "It almost looks like a little whale."

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries biologist Mark Grace has spent more than 30 years going through bags upon bags of fish to identify them. It took him more than three years to get near the end of the freezer. That is when he plopped a bag on the table and let it thaw.

"I wasn't really sure what it was," Grace said. "That pocket over on the pectoral fin. I had never seen anything like that on a shark."

It's a small miracle that the shark was not thrown away. A couple of times, the lab with the freezer lost power.

Once identified, the shark was shipped to New York and France for high-tech examinations that wouldn't puncture the specimen.

The shark also has unusual belly patches not seen in most sharks. The only other pocket shark was a female adult about 17 inches long. It is believed that adult females may be larger than males.

But the truly strange thing about this species is its twin pockets. No one knows what they are for. Grace and Doosey speculated that they may secrete some kind of glowing fluid or pheromones.

The Gulf specimen has umbilical scars, showing he's probably a few weeks old, Grace said. Because of that, they think he was born in the Gulf. He was captured in February 2010 by the ship Pisces. The vessel was about 190 miles off the Louisiana coast.

"There's others" out there, Grace said. "We just haven't caught them yet."

Critical thinking challenge: Why was the shark kept frozen?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/there-such-thing-cute-shark/

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COMMENTS (208)
  • Joni-Pav
    4/30/2015 - 10:15 a.m.

    This shark is so cute. I love sharks and this shark makes me want to learn more about it and other sharks. It mskes me so happy.

  • Laurad-Pav
    4/30/2015 - 10:20 a.m.

    Even though this creature maybe not the cutest shark it sure is interesting to know that there are different creatures that we've never seen before. There are many animals we've never seen before and I'm excited to see what other creatures scientist can find.

  • 21cmhaas
    4/30/2015 - 11:58 a.m.

    The pocket shark is so adorable and tiny that I just want to hug it or kiss it on the head. It's so weird that the little shark has twin pockets and the weirdest part is why there has only been two found so far. I think it would be cool to have one as a pet because it's so tiny and cute.

  • 21aatrya
    4/30/2015 - 12:00 p.m.

    Yes this shark is cut but, once it grows it will be mean and huge. I t will also be very furious. I personally hate sharks but sometimes they can be cute, when they are little.

  • 21mmcrow
    4/30/2015 - 12:02 p.m.

    I think that shark is cute and a very cool find. I wonder how the species will end up in the future. I wonder why it's so short because normally a baby shark is 3-6 feet long at birth. This is very awesome.

  • MargaretZ-5
    4/30/2015 - 12:22 p.m.

    They have found a new type of shark. Now scientists are trying to help this new breed and help keep them alive. They found the sharks off the coast of California, also showing how many of the sharks are now living.

  • colab-Paw
    4/30/2015 - 12:52 p.m.

    The shark was kept frozen so that the body didn't decompose and they could still see the insides the way they were when the animal was alive.

  • brandi1018
    4/30/2015 - 01:04 p.m.

    This is really cool. I think its really good that they found a new spices of a shark. Although it may get eaten if they don't watch out carefully. An interesting thing is that it is really cute new animals. This is really amazing.

  • matthewspires650@yahoo.com
    4/30/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    Is there such thing as a cute shark. Think Jaws meets a kangaroo, with maybe a touch of cute kitten and you've got the aptly named pocket shark. It is the newest and rarest species found off the U.S. coast.Surprised scientists have found a tiny, young version of the extraordinarily rare shark. It was fished out of the deep Gulf of Mexico in 2010 with lots of other creatures during a government research trip. The dead specimen spent more than three years in a giant freezer waiting to be identified.There's others out there,we just haven't caught them yet.

  • coltenIred
    4/30/2015 - 01:43 p.m.

    OMG there so cute and thats so awesome, i would want one in a heart beat those things are rare and really cool, hope they find more.

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