Now this is an interesting-looking — and incredibly rare — creature.
With a bulbous head and 50 rows of tiny teeth, the 66th megamouth shark ever seen in the world washed ashore on the morning of Jan. 28 in Pio Duran, Albay, the Philippines, according to Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines. (Some say this is only the 60th confirmed sighting.)
The megamouth shark is so uncommon that until recently, some still considered it a cryptid, a creature so rare that it couldn’t be confirmed by science.
And while the megamouth was first confirmed to exist in 1976 after being accidentally dragged up by a US Navy vessel, it’s still “one of the most rarely seen species of sharks,” marine biologist David Shiffman previously told Business Insider in an email.
Shiffman confirmed to Business Insider that this latest specimen did indeed absolutely appear to be a megamouth.
This one is a 4.6m long male, larger than some estimates for the maximum size of the male members of the species, though megamouths are some of the biggest sharks known.
And despite the many tiny teeth possessed by Megachasma pelagios, a scientific name that means “giant mouth of the deep”, this shark is one of the three that feed on plankton, potentially attracted by its glowing bioluminescent mouth. The other two plankton feeders are the basking shark and whale shark.
Its strange appearance might look scary to some, but unless you’re plankton, it’s totally safe.
This one is the 15th of these creatures found in the Philippines, the second-most seen in any country (behind Japan), though megamouths have been spotted all over the world.
From what we know based on a shark that scientists were able to track off the California coast in 1990, megamouths seem to spend most of the day about 400-500m below the surface. At night they rise up along with many other creatures, most likely to feed.
Here’s a video of a specimen found in Japan being dissected by scientists: