A rare Arctic fish caught off the coast of Nunavut in northern Canada left fishermen puzzled.
But Nigel Hussey, a researcher from the University of Windsor, identified the strange-looking fish as a "knifenose chimaera." The species, which is related to sharks and stingrays, can reach depths of close to 5,000 feet and is typically found throughout the Atlantic Ocean.
"Only one of these fish has previously been documented from the Hudson Strait," Hussey told the CBC. "Potentially, if we fish deeper, maybe between 1,000 and 2,000 meters, we could find that's there's actually quite a lot of them there. We just don't know."
A Nunavut fishing boat caught the fish in the Davis Strait. A photo of the mysterious fish went viral online, with people speculating it was a goblin shark. The goblin shark, also known as Mitsukurina owstoni, is a rare deep-sea shark widely distributed off the coasts of Japan, New Zealand, Southern Africa and the Eastern Atlantic.
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Hussey, who identified the fish as a knifenose chimaera by its photo, told the Huffington Post other scientists are trying to get a look at the specimen.
"We think this species is a knifenose chimaera (Rhinochimaera atlantica). There is another species which they call the longnose, so we don't wish for confusion!" Hussey wrote in an email to the news outlet.
The knifenose chimaera belongs to the genus Rhinochimaeridae – a family of cartilaginous fish defined by their exceptionally long snouts. They typically grow 2 to 4.5 feet long. Their nose has several sensory nerve endings to help them to find food. The knifenose chimaera also possesses a poisonous spine on its front dorsal fin as a defense mechanism.
This isn’t the first unusual-looking fish to be caught this month. In Malaysia, an unidentified fish with a large head and sharp spines was reeled in early November. The catch baffled fishermen in the area, off the coast of Borneo.
“When my husband brought the fish home, both my children were stunned because of its shape and uniqueness,” Siti Kadariah, the angler’s wife, said. “It is God’s gift, and I and my family will keep the fish.”