A rare shark crèche has been found in deep coral rocks about 200 miles west of Ireland.
A film that was collected in July by a far-operated vehicle (ROV) highlights an unusual number of egg cases spreading about 750 meters (820 yards) below the sea.
Such large concentrations, according to the Irish Marine Institute, "are rarely recorded" and suggest that women can collect in this area to place their eggs.
"We're delighted to report the discovery of a scarce shark on a scale that had not previously documented in the Irish waters," said David O Sullivan, a leading scientist on the SeaRover survey (Sensitive Ecosystem Analysis and Investigation Induction Reef), last week.
"This finding shows the significance of sensitive marine habitat documentation," continued, "and will give us a better understanding of the biology of these beautiful animals and their ecosystem function in the Irish Biological Sensitive Area."
O 'Sullivan is a member of INFOMAR, a 20-year government initiative to map the physical, chemical and biological features of the Irish sea bed.
A large green man's school (Galeus malestomus) swimming around the site indicates that the eggs belong to this species common in the north east of the Atlantic.
The roughfin roughshark (Oxynotus paradoxus) – species of dogfish sharks – too.
"Both sexes are of scientific interest as Ireland has an obligation to monitor deep water sharks under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive," said Maurice Clarke, of the Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services at the Marine Institute, in a statement .
The last, listed as "under threatened threat" by the International Union for Nature Conservation, could have been feeding on the eggs, although there is no hard evidence to support late.
"No puppies were obvious at the site and it is believed that the adult shoots could use a degraded coral reef and an open carbonate rock to lay their eggs," explained O & Sullivan.
"A healthy coral riff in the vicinity can act as a shelter for the young fish breeds when they cover," he continued. "It is anticipated that a further study of the site will answer some important scientific questions on biology and deep water shark ecology in the waters of Ireland."
SeaRover is the second of three surveys commissioned and jointly funded by the Irish government and the EU European Fisheries and Forestry Fund.
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