Rare “megamouth” shark, originally discovered by the US Navy, caught in Japan

A rare shark – first discovered in the 70’s by the US Navy -has been caught by a group of fishermen off the coast of Japan.

Jaw-dropping video of the rare megamouth shark – which is over 16-feet long and just under a ton–  is travelling fast on social media. The deepwater shark was caught last week off the Owase Port in Mie Prefecture, central Japan.

It was by accident in 1976, when the megamouth was discovered– when one of them got caught by the anchor of a US Navy ship AFB-14 off the coast of Kāneʻohe, Hawaii.

The actual name, however, was not given until about seven years later because even scientists, at first, thought it was a practical joke. “It is so unlike any other species of shark that it has been listed as the sole extant member of the Megachasmidae family,” The New Daily reports.

This rare specimen with a wide mouth and unusually large head has been spotted in the past in the waters around Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. Sightings have also been reported in the waters near Indonesia, Australia, Mexico, Senegal and South Africa.

When another megamouth washed ashore in Japan in 2014, 1500 people reportedly turned out for a public autopsy which was conducted by the Marine Science Museum in Shizuoka.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there have only been about 100 confirmed sightings of this shark since 1983 and there’s still so much we don’t know about it. The IUCN says, “Further research on its ecology and habitat are required to better understand the species and the potential effects of fishing.”

The megamouth shark is one of only three known living species of planktivorous shark. The filter-feeder swims with its enormous mouth open to capture plankton and jellyfish.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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