NEW: Get the full story of the bizarre gelatinous fish. Is it a new species?
September 22, 2009—UPDATE: A gelatinous fish found off Brazil's Bahia coast has been touted as a previously unknown species. But the six-foot-long, toothed oddity may be a known member of a group of mysterious bottom-dwellers known as jellynose fish, another expert says.
© 2009 National Geographic (AP)
Scientists in Brazil found what they thought was a strange, new species of fish off the coast of Bahia.
The fish was over six feet long, with a long tail and was found floating on the surface of the ocean by researchers from the TAMAR project, a sea turtle conservation project.
SOUNDBITE (Portuguese) Guy Marcovaldi, TAMAR Project: "At first, I got really scared when I saw this huge thing in the water. But then, I decided to jump in the water and film it."
But within the scientific realm, this family of fishes is actually well-known.
According to David Johnson, an ichthyologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the specimen is part of a group of fishes known as Jellynoses.
They aren't often seen, though, because they are bottom dwellers living at depths beyond a thousand feet.
These fish may reach a length of around 6 feet, and weigh about 100 pounds interesting, considering that they start their lives at just a half an inch in length as seen in this photo.
They have small teeth, no scales and are gelatinous with a large body fat content not good for eating.
This fish has been preserved in formaldehyde, and will be maintained in the zoology department at the Federal University of Bahia.
Could this be a new species of Jellynose? Dave Johnson says it's possible, but unlikely, and the only way to determine that is through careful study.
But, new species are being identified all the time. Currently, there are around 30,000 known species of fishes in the world, and scientists believe there are thousands of others yet to be described.