An expedition revealed rare close footage of a deep-sea shark that typically weighs more than a ton on July 29.
Exploration initiative OceanX organized a team of researchers, led by Dean Grubbs from Florida State University (FSU). Their mission—to tag a shark in the Bahamas. They were stunned when a bluntnose sixgill rose from the ocean floor.
“Oh wow, my goodness,” one researcher can be heard saying from inside the submarine on the video. “Look at the width of that thing.”
The shark swam, stirring up sand everywhere.
“This is a monster,” another researcher can be heard saying. “She is huge … this female she is definitely bigger than the sub is long.”
Dr. Dean Grubbs from @floridastate, and researchers from @CEIbahamas successfully tagged a bluntnose #sixgill #shark from an @oceanx #submersible. The team spent months designing a system to tag these sharks at their native depths in the #twilightzonehttps://t.co/zzCYV3qn5Y
— ANGARI Foundation (@ANGARIocean) July 19, 2019
The creature then moved towards the Nadir submarine. It appeared to open its eyes, then try and bite the gun used to tag aquaculture.
“I am not going to shoot her,” one of the researchers said. “She is going to eat the gun.”
The bluntnose has existed since 180 million years ago and is thought to be one of the oldest living shark species in the world, according to Newsweek. Their six large gill slits can identify the species since other types of sharks usually have just five and mostly live between 650 and 3,300 feet under sea level.
“Monster” shark bigger than a submarine filmed by scientists as it tries to eat their gun https://t.co/LCcHSUbIUy
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) August 2, 2019
“This ancient species predates most dinosaurs, and is a dominant predator of the deep sea ecosystem,” OceanX said in a blog post.
@BusinessInsider highlights the success of our mission to tag the bluntnose sixgill shark, a creature so “perfectly efficient it has remained practically unchanged for 200 million years.” https://t.co/gt99eCkF60
— OceanX (@oceanx) July 9, 2019
The team hopes through tagging the bluntnose they will be able to learn more about their little known biology and behavior, according to Newsweek.
“With our wonderful partners at the Cepe Eleuthera Institute, this weekend we managed to achieve history—tagging an animal from a submersible (submarine) for the first time ever,” OceanX said.
“The lead scientist on the mission, FSU Marine Lab’s Dr. Dean Grubbs, has been the first to put a satellite tag on one of these elusive sharks, but until now, had only been able to do so by bringing them up to the surface.”
“So much money has been expended on tagging great whites, and here we have a comparably sized predator, and we know almost nothing about it,” – Dr. Dean Grubbs on Bluntnose Sixgill Sharks. Exciting @FloridaMuseum post re: tagging trip with @gavinnaylor https://t.co/7hd5lC16AQ pic.twitter.com/MceDXs8evX
— Shark Advocates (@SharkAdvocates) July 16, 2019
The research team revealed the area suitable for tagging a shark is usually about the size of an iPad. They expect it will take some time for the bluntnose to recover since it’s “hard on them physiologically to be tagged in this way.”
“Typically, the data obtained after surface tagging of a sixgill is believed to be skewed, as the shark does not return to its natural behaviors for some time after the tagging,” OceanX said.
The team returned to a hero’s welcome and threw a party while reviewing the underwater footage from mission control.
“This is historic for a variety of reasons,” OceanX said. “Now that we’ve proven this method can work for the sixgill, we can unlock the world of leviathan deep-sea dwellers and gain important insights into their movement and behavior.”