Weird and Wonderful Chimaera Fish

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Chimaeras are related to sharks, but they are small and mostly harmless.

This does not mean they are boring.

Chimaeras were named after a mythical creature because that is just what they look like.

They are often called ghost sharks because they are eerie.

Eerie is a word I like to use when I can not figure out if something is beautiful or scary.

What do you think of them?

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The spotted ratfish

The spotted ratfish lives in the north eastern pacific ocean. They are often encountered by divers in Puget Sound. Puget Sound is in the U.S. state of Washington.

The spotted ratfish prefers to live in deep water further south, but further north it is willing to live in bays and near beaches, at least during the spring and fall months.

Rat fish can be 97 centimeters long, or 38 inches. Most of this is tail. They are not much bigger then a rat. Males are much smaller.

The large front fins of the rat fish make it look like an air plane. It moves like an air plane too, doing barrel rolls and other tricks.

Rat fish eat crunchy things like star fish and clams, but they also like worms. They chew them with very unusual teeth.

When attacked, the Rat fish may use the poisonous stinger on its dorsal fin, but it usually prefers to keep at a safe distance rather then fight.

They are nocturnal and few can forget their huge cat-like eyes.

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Gulf Chimaera

This little guy is from the north to central Atlantic ocean. He seems to like his water deep, dark, and as far from land as possible. Gulf Chimeras have been found off the coast of Mexico and the United States. They are probably named after the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Narrownose Chimaera

The Narrownose Chimaera lives in many parts of the world, just as long as the water isn’t to hot or too cold. Like many Chimaera fish it likes deep, dark water. So it is rarely seen.

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Eastern Pacific Black Ghost Shark

This Chimaera looks more like a shark then the others, but still has a ratfish tail. By looking at him you can understand why Chimaeras are grouped with sharks.

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Australian ghost shark

Australian ghost sharks live off the southern coast of Australia and New Zealand in 200 to 500 meters of water (667 to 1,667 feet), but they lay their eggs in shallow water during the spring and summer. When coming ashore they must watch for humans, who like to eat them. Adult males can grow to be 65 centimeters long. (About 30 inches) They are also called elephant sharks. It is thought that they use their strange noses to plow up food from the bottom.

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Like many sharks, Chimaera fish store their eggs in cases called mermaid purses.

Many humans think the cases are just bits of plastic, but they often contain baby fish.

How many different purses do you think there are?

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