While tons of people love to flock to Exuma to swim with some nurse sharks, they might not be so excited to swim alongside the mysterious bluntnose sixgill shark that was recently caught on camera in the Bahamas.
This shark species pre-dated dinosaurs and are one of the few shark species to have both primitive and current physical characteristics. It’s also one of the only shark species to have six-gill slits instead of the typical five. Bluntnose sharks can grow as long as 26 feet in length and can live around 80 years.
Despite being on Earth for nearly 200 million years, not much is known about this species. Bluntnose sixgill sharks prefer dark waters and generally, stay near the bottom of the ocean floor.
One of these mysterious and ancient sharks was seen in the waters around the Bahamas. A team of marine biologists led by Florida State University and partnering with OceanX set out to tag one of these creatures. As a deep-sea species, tagging is notoriously difficult. According to OceanX, “In their typical life cycle, they won’t experience daylight, and very rarely will they feel the low pressure, warmer temperatures of surface waters. Typically, the data obtained after surface tagging of a six gill is believed to be skewed, as the shark does not return to its natural behaviors for some time after the tagging.”
It took the research team years and multiple tries before they were finally able to tag one of these sharks- a first! Rather than drag the deep-sea shark to the surface, the researches were able to tag a male bluntnose sixgill shark from a submersible, a small underwater watercraft. Although these species can grow larger than even Great Whites, the area suitable for tagging was much smaller.
For the first time, scientists are now able to track and study these elusive sharks. This unique method of tagging also opens up doors for future research on other deep-sea species.
Check out the video of how this all happened!