A pocket shark—the rarest of sharks with only one specimen ever seen before—has been discovered by scientists, and in the most unusual way.
A male pocket shark measuring 5.5 inches long was collected during a 2010 midwater trawl survey 190 miles south of Louisiana by NOAA/NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center while studying prey of sperm whales.
The dead specimen was collected with other sea creatures, bagged up and stored in a giant freezer at NOAA’s lab in Pascagoula, Mississippi, until they could be identified, according to the Associated Press.
NOAA fisheries biologist Mark Grace, lead author on a just released study, has spent more than 30 years going through bags of fish to identify them. It took him three years before coming across the pocket shark.
Associated Press called it a small miracle that the pocket shark hadn’t been tossed out after NOAA’s freezer lost power a couple of times.