24 June, 2019. By: Ally Foster. A Victorian local was surprised when they stumbled across a bizarre-looking creature while walking along a beach in the state’s southeast.
Cosy Seaside Escape posted photos of the strange-looking marine animal to Facebook after it “came out to sunbake” on Golden Beach in the state’s Gippsland region over the weekend.
The odd-looking animal is actually a catshark.
This species of shark usually stays on the ocean floor eating small fish, though some species are able to live in very shallow waters for lengthy periods, news.com.au reports.
Despite their creepy appearance, catsharks aren’t harmful to humans.
Many social media users were delighted by seeing the “amazing” shark up close.
“That is incredible — nature at its best,” one person said.
One added: “That’s very cool.”
However, some social media users weren’t so impressed.
“Aw hell no,” one person said.
Another wrote: “I’m not sure if this is a good thing. someone else spotted another one of these beached only a couple of weeks ago. What’s going on in the deep sea that they are surfacing?”
Catsharks get their name from their eyes, which look eerily similar to those of household cats.
Certain species of this shark also glow in the dark, which is used to communicate with others.
Research published in the nature journal Scientific Reports in 2016 found two species of shark, the chain catshark and the swell shark, absorbed the blue light of the ocean and re-emitted it at lower energy wavelengths, which resulted in the fish glowing bright green.
Lead author of the research, Dr David Gruber, said he was aware of this process called biofluorescence in coral but was unaware it may be found in sharks as well.
“It is kind of like out of a sci-fi novel,” he said.
“In 2014 we were studying biofluorescence in coral, and we accidentally got photobombed by a green fluorescent eel, and so we went on an expedition and found 180 species of biofluorescent fish.”
Dr Gruber and his team found catsharks and swell sharks lived about 500 metres below the surface of the water, where sunlight produces a blue light.
An unidentified pigment in the shark’s skin re-emits the animal as bright green.