SCIENCE
01/24/2016 07:41 pm ET Updated Jan 24, 2016

Ghostly White Shark Dies On Australian Beach

The striking color isn't the only thing that makes this shark a rare find.

A ghost was spotted on a beach in New South Wales, Australia, and Luke Anslow has the pictures to prove it.

Anslow posted pictures of his eerie discovery to Facebook last week: a ghostly white shark about 5 feet long, with strikingly black eyes.

"Beached itself in the shallows in Port Hacking," Anslow wrote in the photo's caption. "Not something you see everyday. Albino white."

Despite its appearance, the shark pictured above is not albino, according to Earth Touch News. If it were a true albino -- a genetic condition characterized by the absence of any coloration or pigmentation -- it would be entirely white or a faint yellow, with pink, red or even purple eyes due to the blood vessels.

The shark's jet-black eyes suggest that it's actually leucistic, or "partially albino," another genetic condition that leads to only a partial loss of pigmentation and doesn't affect the animal's eyes.

But its color isn't the only thing that makes this shark an extremely rare find.

John Chisholm, a biologist with the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, says the shark is most likely a juvenile great white shark. Not much is known about the early lives of great whites, according to Earth News Network.

While online commenters and experts have suggested that the pale fish could be a juvenile mako or porbeagle shark, Chisholm is sure of his ID.

"From the pictures I've seen online, I'm confident it's a white shark," Chisholm told Earth Touch News. "But I understand the confusion." 

"Juvenile white sharks are very similar in appearance to porbeagles," he added. But the porbeagle has a secondary fin just before its tail fin known as a caudal keel, and the great white does not, he said.

Christopher Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University at Long Beach, would agree. The shark "certainly has the right morphology of a white shark," Lowe told Grind TV.

According to Anslow, the white shark was thrashing in shallow waters before it beached itself and died. Officials with the New South Whales Fisheries Department collected its body for further analysis.

Why the pale shark beached itself is still a mystery, but one thing's for sure: Anslow has one hell of a ghost story to tell.

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