Sharks are the subject of many stories, albeit most are horror stories.  From Hollywood blockbusters to nightly news reports, sharks are most commonly portrayed as mindless eating machines swimming through the oceans searching for their next victim.  While this isn't entirely true, sharks are one of the premiere predators on the planet today.  They have been flawlessly designed by nature for speed, agility, and just overall raw power.

But not all sharks are the same. In fact, some sharks lack the power of a Great White or the smaller yet just as ferocious tiger shark or bull shark.  But where one, much smaller species of shark may lack in power and prowess, it compensates with a very interesting mutation.

A recently discovered species of shark has devised a rather awe-inspiring way of luring and ambushing unsuspecting prey.  It glows in the dark! 

The American Pocket Shark was recently spotted and captured in the Gulf of Mexico as reported in a new Tulane University study.  According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researcher Mark Grace, this is only the second time a pocket shark has been captured or recorded, the last time being nearly 40 years ago in 1979 in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

"Both are separate species, each from separate oceans," he said. "Both are exceedingly rare."

So how exactly does this miraculous sea-faring creature glow?  Research says that the shark, which is less than six inches long, secretes a bioluminescent fluid from a small pouch near its front fins.  However, glow-in-the-dark sea creatures are not all that rare.  NOAA estimates that about nine out of ten animals that live in the depths of the sea are bioluminescent.  Although, research on deep-sea creatures is somewhat insufficient.

Bioluminescence is believed to serve at least three purposes; the attraction of potential mates, the warding off of likely predators, and the baiting of smaller swimmers for food.  One of the more infamous examples of deep sea fish using bioluminescence to their advantage is the ever frightening, black seadevil.   This nightmare of a fish uses an appendage which protrudes from its head and acts as a fishing pole, with a tiny, luminous ball at the tip. By the time unsuspecting fish that tend to get mesmerized by luminescence, realize they are too close, its too late.

Other sea life, such as plankton, are also known to use bioluminescence.  These tiny glowing creatures are the culprits behind natural phenomenon such as the red tide.  The reason they glow?  To scare away potential predators.  For the plankton it's a matter of survival, for humans it's a beautiful display of Earth's never-ending wonders.