- The splendid lantern shark, which lives very deep in the ocean, can glow in the dark.
- The bioluminescence facilitates the small shark in mating, schooling and other behaviors.
- The shark's glow probably evolved millions of years ago, when the shark first colonized the deep sea.
The first detailed study of the rare splendid lantern shark reveals that not only does it glow in the dark, but the light effects create a "cloak of invisibility" that helps shield it from predators.
The study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, is also the first to document the cylindrical-shaped shark's presence in waters around the Okinawa Islands of Japan. Previously, the shark was only confirmed to exist in the East China Sea, off Taiwan, and in the waters around southern Japan.
Its natural light show, produced by light-emitting organs called photophores, serves many functions. The cloak of invisibility is perhaps one of the most beneficial, since it helps to protect the small, shark from upward-looking predators. The lantern shark is a member of the small dogfish sharks.