Rare Megamouth Shark Caught Off Japanese Coast
t seems that rare and unusual sharks are leaving the deepest depths of the ocean and coming up to surface. After all the excitement over the recent catch and release of a goblin shark caught in the Gulf of Mexico, fisherman off the coast of Japan nabbed a rare megamouth shark recently.
A 13-foot, 1,500-pound female megamouth shark, only the 58th to ever be seen, was captured late last month off the coast of the Japanese city of Shizuoka, according to the Science Recorder.
The details of the catch remain unclear, but the megamouth shark - clearly named for its extremely large head and impressive mouth capacity, The Weather Channel reported - is on display in Shizuoka's Marine Science Museum. Scientists performed on autopsy Thursday on the rare beast while 1,500 museum onlookers stood by.
According to Fox News, the first megamouth shark was discovered in Hawaii in 1976, prompting scientists to create an entirely new family and genus of sharks. Though they may look menacing, these creatures are docile filter-feeders with wide, blubbery mouths and small teeth.
The sharks have been spotted in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
"As with the two other filter-feeding sharks, the basking and whale sharks, this species is wide-ranging," according to a profile of the animal on the museum's website. "However, the megamouth is considered to be less active and a poorer swimmer than the basking or whale sharks."
Despite its considerable size (reaching up to 17 feet long), biologists believe that the megamouth does have natural predators, like the sperm whale, for instance.
Megamouth sharks spend their time in deep waters (this one was caught at 2,600 feet) and feed on large quantities of krill, according to the Fox News report.
They are also thought to be the oldest species in the taxonomic order that includes the mako, basking, and grey nurse sharks, according to The Science Recorder.