Fascinating, mysterious & bizarre

Dwelling at the bottom of our oceans are these remarkable enigmas. A close relative of sharks, skates and rays.

Also known as rabbit fish, elephantfish or ghostfish. These creatures have existed for at least 300 million years. Living under the radar in the darkest depths of our oceans.

Although chimaera have a lot in common with sharks there are key differences. Chimaera have long tapering bodies and large heads. A venomous spine, which they use to defend themselves against predators. And they don't replace their teeth like sharks do.

Chimaera vary in colour from black to pale blue to brownish grey. And have smooth skin. Large translucent-green eyes also help them to see in the dark. These large eyes, along with their nostrils and teeth, give them a rabbit-like appearance. Hence their nickname ‘rabbit fish’.

We know very little about these creatures. Adding to their mystery. It's difficult for scientists to study them because of where they live, deep at the bottom of the sea. But we do know that they live for 25-30 years. They're slow growing and produce few young in their lifetime. So, just like sharks, skates and rays, they're extremely vulnerable to human threats. Particularly deep sea trawling.

Chimaera are fished for their liver oil which is used in some cosmetic and health products. One species, known as the elephantfish, is also eaten as fish and chips in New Zealand.

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