An extremely rare megamouth shark was recently captured by a fishermen off the coast of southern Japan. It’s the 58th time in history one of its kind were seen or caught.
The first megamouth was discovered in Hawaii in 1976, prompting scientists to create an entirely new family and genus of sharks. The megamouths are docile filter-feeders with wide, blubbery mouths.
Others megamouths have been encountered in California, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Brazil, Ecuador, Senegal, South Africa, Mexico and Australia. It’s known to inhabit the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Megamouths, which can grow up to lengths of 17 feet, are one of only three species of sharks that feed on plankton. The creatures filter the tiny plants from the water through their gills as they swim through the ocean with an open mouth. Their scientific name “Megachasma pelagios” means “giant mouth of the deep.”
The female shark, which weighs nearly 1,500 pounds and measures at least 13 feet, was put on display at the Marine Science Museum in Shizuoka City while scientists performed an autopsy on the female shark in front of curious onlookers.