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18th Feb 2022

Baby ‘ghost shark’ with retractable penis on head found 1,200m under water

Kieran Galpin

Ghost shark

We’ve heard it’s a bit of a d**k head

A penis-headed shark has been spotted off the coast of New Zealand in a rare sighting that has since gone viral across the internet.

A newly hatched ghost shark was spotted at around 1,200m below sea level in an area commonly referred to as the Chatham Rise. This momentous occasion is rarely witnessed as the shark’s eggs are usually laid on the seafloor.

Ghost shark

The adult fish ranges between 60cm and 2m in length and comes equipped with a retractable penis on its head. These ancient fish have been around since the dinosaurs were about – but their elusive nature has often evaded in-depth research.

Fisheries expert, Dr Brit Finucci, posted the find on Twitter, which she believed to be a few days old. Finucci, who is currently with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), said you can tell the creature is young as it has a belly full of egg yolk.

Speaking to, the scientist said: “It’s quite astonishing. Most deepwater ghost sharks are known adult specimens. Neonates are infrequently reported so we know very little about them.

“Finding this ghost shark will help us better understand the biology and ecology of this mysterious group of deepwater fish.”

However, ghost sharks are not a singular species – instead, they’re a family of similar animals known as chimaeras that possess skeletons made of cartilage.

The exact breed of Finucci’s new friend is not yet known.

Speaking on Twitter, she said: “Just your regular annual Shark Week reminder that ghost sharks are just as great as all those other sharks.”


Next steps include gathering measurements and samples of the animal, says Finucci – but don’t worry – you won’t be on this critter’s meal plan as they tend to consume worms and molluscs on the seafloor.

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