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Australian Ghost Shark - Elephant Shark

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Published on Jun 13, 2013

Deep sea shark. The marine elephant fish aka Australian ghost shark or elephant shark can be found off the coast of Southern Australia and New Zealand. Not to be confused the the freshwater elephant fish,which is a ray finned fish found in tropical Africa and the nile.

This shark lives at depths of 200 to 500 meters and grows to between 60 and 120 centimeters. The shark mates in the spring and females lay eggs contained in large capsules on sandy or muddy substrate.

This shiny silvery colored fish has a snout with a fleshy hoe shaped appendage that is used to forage for food in the muddy ocean floor, using sensory canals and the pores on its head. Its large serrated spine is though to be poisonous, but there have been no reports of serious injury.

The slow growth of this shark, along with its limited range makes this species vulnerable to intensive fishing by commercial trawlers due to their popularity in fish and chips restaurants in New Zealand and Australia.

It is on the rebound from severe overfishing in the mid 80s but there is no real plan to protect this species even though it is considered to be vital in understanding the origin and evolution of vertebrate genomes including our own.

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