The Megamouth Shark Species Has Only Been Spotted Sixty Times

Samuel Reason | February 16th, 2019

An extremely rare type of shark which swims around Taiwanese, Philippines and Japanese waters was only first spotted in 1976. The terrifying beast usually weighs over a ton and can be over five meters long. Megamouth sharks generally just swim with their mouths open, filling themselves up with krill, shrimp and plankton.

Of course, it is called the megamouth shark for a reason and this is due to its unusually large oral cavity. After the media first coined the phrase in 1983 when one was fished out of the ocean by some Japanese fishermen. The term quickly caught on and many authors started to call the species the Megamouth shark, which in time caused it to become the shark’s common name.

National Geographic describes it as the rarest shark in the world, with only 60 reported sightings ever documented. And though the name may lead you to think they are particularly dangerous, these sharks are actually what we call filter sharks. They do not really pose a threat to humans, they just scoop up small plankton and shrimp while swimming.

The reason they are spotted so rarely is that they are deepwater creatures and will not generally swim near the surface. And also because of this researchers barely know anything about the creature. It has a round snout and is normally a brownish color on top with a white belly. Megamouth sharks tend to swim very slowly following the migratory patterns of plankton in the sea. This causes their species to be very migratory and even though they are rare they have been found in every ocean.

It was first discovered in 1976 when a megamouth shark became tangled in a US Navy’s anchor off the coast of Hawaii. As it was a previously unknown shark species, it easily became one of the most sensational discoveries of the 20th century for marine life.

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