The Lantern Shark is also referred to as the velvet belly lantern or velvet belly shark. Growing only about 18 inches in length, it is one of the smallest shark species in the world and it lives in the deep waters between depths of 660 and 8000 feet. Except for its belly, a majority of its body is brown in colour. It is a rather stout shark species, with a long flat snout and a thin tail.
Velvet Belly Shark
Its name comes from the black “velvet” belly which is bioluminescent. There are light-emitting photophores in its belly that produces the light. This light provides the shark with an unusual camouflage from predators.
Young Lantern Sharks
Lantern sharks are ovoviviparous. This means that the young hatch from eggs within the mother’s body and are nourished by a yolk sac until birth. The young sharks are bioluminescent before they are born, because the yolk sac is florescent even before any photophores have formed. This is believed to be because the luminescent materials are transferred to the offspring from the mother. Newborn lantern sharks are only 12-14 cm long. The newborn’s body is 80% luminance at birth but it reduces as it grows.
The YouTube video playlist below contains a video about Lanternsharks. Details of the video featured are underneath.
Strange Japanese Sea Creatures by National Geographic
Exotic creatures lie at the bottom of Japan’s Suruga Bay, including spider crabs, chimeras and lantern sharks.