Rare megamouth shark captured off Japan
'Alien shark' was hauled from a depth of 2,600 feet; only 58 known sightings
Megamouth shark is admired in Japan before an autopsy; image is a video screen grab
A public autopsy was performed this week on a rare megamouth shark caught off Shizuoka, Japan, providing onlookers with a glimpse of the prehistoric-looking creature.
The capture of the 13-foot female megamouth late last month was not
widely reported, but it was an extremely rare event. About 1,500 people
showed at the Marine Science Museum in Shizuoka City to witness the
autopsy, which might help scientists learn more about the mysterious
The shark, which is named because of its bulbous head and the
enormous capacity of its mouth, was hauled from a lightless depth of
2,600 feet. It was not immediately clear, based on sparse news reports,
how the shark was captured.
According to WPTV, it was only the 58th megamouth to have been captured or sighted by man.
The Florida Museum of Natural History
states that the first known capture of a megamouth shark was in 1976.
It was such a mysterious animal that a new shark family, genus and
species had to be created. (Megachasmidae, Megachasma, and pelagios, respectively.)
Megamouth shark’s head and mouth are shown up-close; image is a video screen grab
The FMNH website lists only 53 confirmed sightings of the megamouth
shark. Either the site has not been updated or the museum lists only
sightings that were 100% confirmed.
Sightings have been made around the world, but most (at least 13) were made off Japan.
The megamouth, believed to reach a maximum length of 17 feet, resides
mostly at great depths, but rises toward the surface at night to feed.
Like the basking shark and whale shark, the megamouth is a filter feeder. Its chief prey is shrimp-like krill.