A man peers into the mouth of a megamouth shark that washed ashore a beach in the Philippines. (Photo: BFAR/Facebook)
Some species are so elusive, that we don't get many chances to see them in real life. Right now, deep-sea enthusiasts are aglow because an extremely rare 15-foot megamouth shark washed up on a beach in the Philippines, giving scientists the chance to study a real specimen.
The megamouth, a species that has been spotted fewer than 70 times since it was first discovered, was found on Jan. 28 between the Albay and Masbate provinces. Nonie Enolva, head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Regional Emergency Stranding Response Team (BFAR-RESRT), told The Inquirer in a phone interview that, while the cause of death has not yet been determined, she believes the creature could have been trapped in a fishing net or ingested a poisonous substance.
Enolva also noted that the body was not perfectly intact.
A crowd poses around a megamouth shark. (Photo: BFAR/Facebook)
Megamouth sharks, only discovered in 1976, are deep-sea animals that rarely show themselves to humans — although humans might not have much to fear if they did see one out in the ocean. Megamouths are filter-feeders, opening their huge mouths to catch small prey such as plankton and krill. Humans and other big forms of prey don't appear to be on the menu. However, so few have been seen alive, no one quite knows for sure how they behave.
According to George Burgess, director of FLMNH's Florida Program for Shark Research, in an interview with the Scientific American, the megamouth is truly unique. Burgess said, "It's in its own family and its own genus as a single species (Megachasma pelagios), and it's in the Megachasmidae family. It's one of a kind, or monotypic, as we say in the scientific world. It's the only member of its group, the only member of its family, and the only member of its genus."
If you want to see a Megamouth in person, you're in luck. Enolva also told The Inquirer, "We are planning to display or preserve it at the Albay Park and Wildlife through taxidermy. If ever, this will be the third time we will have this process in the Philippines."
If you don't plan on going to the Philippines any time soon, you can see a real live megamouth shark in action in this incredible clip from Discovery.
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