Name Scientific: Hydrolagus novaezelandiae (dark), H. bemis (pale)
Availability: Year round
Attributes Weight: 0.6–1.5kg
Attributes Length: 50–80cm (excluding the tail filament)
Dark ghostsharks are most abundant in waters 150 to 500 metres deep off the west coast of the South Island and on the Chatham Rise.
Brown body above with a pattern of pale stripes and spots, the colouring paling to silver on the belly. The head is blunt and rounded, the eyes large, and there is a long tapering tail. The first dorsal fin is preceded by a strong spine, and the pectoral fins are very large. Pale ghostsharks are paler brown than H. novaezelandiae and white below, with soft skin that damages easily. The species is distinguished from H. novaezelandiae by the lack of dark mottling on the skin and dorsal fin.
Dark ghostshark belongs to the Chimaeridae family (chimaeras, ghostsharks) and is restricted to New Zealand, but there are similar species elsewhere. It is sometimes sold as Pearl fish.
Pale and dark ghost sharks were introduced in the Quota Management System in 1998/99 as separate fisheries. Ghost shark are primarily taken as a bycatch in other target trawl fisheries, and historically were reported as a species group. The two species have different depth ranges. The stocks are monitored using commercial catch rate data and trawl survey indices, which have generally been stable over recent decades other than dark ghost sharks around the South Island where abundance has shown an increasing trend.
The species is caught throughout the year off the central and southern continental shelf by trawling and deepwater longlining. Much of the landing is a by-catch from the hoki fishery.
Did You Know
Because of their appearance, Ghostsharks are known in other cultures as 'ratfish' and 'rabbitfish'. 'Hydrolagus' in their scientific name means 'water hare'.
Ghost shark has white, firm-textured and boneless fillets.Try it in a curry; poached; steamed; baked; barbequed; in a casserole; or fried.
Ghost shark is sometimes sold as 'pearl fish'. When buying ghost shark fillets, always check the... EYES: Bright and clear cornea, shiny black pupil GILLS: Rosy pink pastel coloured gills SKIN: Bright, with a luminous sheen FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.