A 13-foot long female megamouth shark weighing nearly 1,500 pounds caught off the coast of Japan was dissected before thousands of onlookers at the Marine Science Museum in Shizuoka City Thursday. The creature was caught by fishermen from a depth of 2,600 feet.
The first specimen of a megamouth shark was caught off Oahu, Hawaii, in 1976, and megamouth sightings are extremely rare. According to the Japan Daily Press, this catch in Japan marks just the 58th occasion when a megamouth was actually seen by people.
A male megamouth, with an average length of 13 feet, is shorter than a female, which can measure as long as 15 feet. "The megamouth shark is so named for its enormous maw – almost a meter wide and lined with a brilliant silver band to attract planktonic prey. It has been found roaming throughout the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans," according to the WWF.
Such sharks are not very active. They are not good at swimming, which could be due to their "flabby body, soft fins, asymmetrical tail, lack of keels and weak calcification," states the Florida Museum of Natural History. "The megamouth shark, as its vernacular name indicates, has a huge mouth that is terminal and extends behind the eyes. Scientists believe that this shark swims slowly through aggregations of euphasiid shrimp ("krill") and other small prey with its mouth open."