OceanX opens the world of the blunt six-gilled shark


The blunt sixgill shark, Hexanchus griseus, the largest predator of the deep sea, has six gill slits instead of the usual five. While this ancient shark hasn’t changed much since the age of the dinosaurs, little is known about the apex predator as it spends most of its time at depths of up to 4,500 feet. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the Blunt Sixgill as Near Threatened.

OceanX is a media and ocean exploration initiative created by Ray Dalio and his son Mark Dalio. On June 3, an OceanX team on their research vessel, OceanXplorer, a 286-foot-long former oil drilling support vessel equipped with two submersibles, a remote-controlled vehicle and a research vessel with equipment capable of scanning the water column and mapping the seabed on board an expedition off the Azores in the North Atlantic Ocean, to attach satellite and camera beacons to the large population of blunt-nosed sixgills that live among the submarine canyons and seamounts surrounding the islands.

Inside one of the submersibles are pilot Lee Frey and marine scientists Jorge Fontes and Melissa Cristina Márquez (see SRI newsletter summer 2020). They hope to outfit as many six-gilled sharks as possible with two types of tags. One is a satellite tag with a nine month lifespan that will document the vertical movements of the shark, and the other is a camera tag that can not only film the shark over an eight to 12 hour period, but also track its location, speed, depth and ambient temperature.

The Atlantic Ocean is expected to warm to at least 2.7 ° F by 2050. Comparing data from these beacons with data from colleagues in other parts of the world can help us understand the impacts that change Climate and warming oceans could have on the distribution of these animals. , and ultimately their prey, says Fontes, who has studied sharks for over 15 years.

Sixgill research to be featured in the six-part National Geographic series OceanXplorers, produced by James Cameron, the natural history unit of BBC and OceanX studios. Read more here.

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