Rare Deep-Sea Sharks Hold Unprecedented Gathering in Panama

In an unusual twist for the deep sea, a group of rarely seen predators gathered off the coast of Panama in what scientists are calling an "atypical" event. The sighting, which is the first of its kind in the area, has researchers questioning the purpose of this underwater assembly.

The prickly sharks, identified by researchers in a submarine, were the subject of a recent study published in the Journal of Fish Biology. Known for the small spines that cover their bodies, these elusive creatures are typically solitary dwellers of the deep Pacific Ocean.

The encounter occurred in May 2022 during a series of dives exploring the Cordillera de Coiba seamounts, a protected marine area off Panama's west coast. The research team, led by Hector Guzman, Candy Real, and Stefanie Kaiser, documented a total of 12 prickly sharks.

While two sharks were observed swimming alone, the remaining ten were found in an "atypical gathering," suggesting a deliberate rather than coincidental congregation. The reason behind this behavior remains a mystery.

The deep-sea predators were spotted cruising over rocky habitats at depths of about 1,000 feet. Notably, this sighting marks the "first documented record of live Echinorhinus cookei specimens in Panama," according to the study. Previous sightings in the area lacked confirmation.

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